More than one lakh people commit suicide every year in the country. And the most disturbing aspect is that a majority of those committing hara-kiri are from the age group of 18-29 years.
Every year with the announcement of examination results, comes the news of students committing suicide from various parts of India. Either because of failure to secure the desired grade or simply to secure passing marks. Last month alone, seven school students of Uttar Pradesh took the extreme step of ending their lives after learning that they failed their examination. Two students of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology committed suicide because they could not withstand the ignominy of being branded as "failed". Failure in examinations is one of the many reasons that drive the youngsters to commit suicide.
In recent years, newspapers have been reporting extensively on suicides by indebted farmers in various parts of the country. Successive crop failures and the social stigma attached to "indebtness" drive many of these farmers to suicide. Family discord, marital disharmony and divorce are some other compelling factors contributing to the increasing graph of suicides in the country.
Think. On 31 May, a 17 years old girl in Noida, unable to come to terms with the refusal of her marriage proposal shot herself in the head with her father's licensed revolver. According to police sources, "she drew out a revolver kept in the dash-board of her father's car and shot herself in the head. She was immediately rushed to the hospital where her condition was declared critical".
Psychoanalysts specializing in teenage suicide cases blame the trend on a number of factors including peer pressure, behavioural abnormality, personality disorder and a history of depression highlighted by the simple inability to come to terms with the ground reality. In recent years, with parental expectation of the performance bar going up steadily, many youngsters who fail to achieve the desired results in examinations take the extreme step of snuffing out their lives.
In fact, a rat race to achieve the "best of results' seems to be at the root of an increasing suicide spree in the student community. " A 70 or 80 per cent aggregate is no longer enough; the race is on to go beyond 95%. When results fall short, a sense of inadequacy and helplessness creeps in, forcing these students to take extreme measures," observed Dr.M.S.Thimappa, a clinical psychology expert and former Vice Chancellor of Bangalore University.
Further, according to Dr.Thimappa, there are occasions when the pressure and strain nudges students to commit suicide ever before the results are out. "The problem is also with parents who set very limited goals, like engineering and medicine, for their children, who, in turn, feel that if they are not good at these, they are not good at anything" he added.
Researchers at the Bangalore-based National Institute of Mental Health Sciences (NIMHANS) believe that the core problem behind the increasing spree of suicides is essentially psychological though social pressure is an additional factor leading to suicide. "There is the constant pressure to secure better jobs or salaries but a student's way of coping with such pressure depends on multiple factors including his bearings within the family," said NIMHANS researchers.
In recent years, many films and TV serials produced in Malayalam keep referring to parental pressure on their wards to put in the best so that "neighbours, friends and relatives will not hold them in low esteem"
Interestingly, cold statistics reveals that the more developed southern States lead in suicides. Notwithstanding, a higher literacy rate in comparison to the northern States. The reason for this dismal state of affair is not far to seek. "The high literacy rates in the south means higher expectation and ambition, which, if not met, breeds frustration and loneliness.
In extreme cases, a prolonged condition may lead a person to end his life", asserted another psychiatrist. Shockingly, according to her, more than one lakh people commit suicide every year in the country. But the most disturbing aspect of India's "suicide landscape" is that a majority of those committing hara-kiri are from the age group of 18-29 years.
Alcoholism is considered yet another major factor contributing to an upwardly rising suicide graph in the country. Neuro-experts state that alcoholics are especially vulnerable to suicides. Clearly, alcoholism disturbs the social fabric, causes marital disharmony and wrecks a human being. In the ultimate analysis, a depressed alcoholic, unable to withstand the humiliation heaped on him by society and the family deems it fit to end his life.
Against this backdrop, clinical psychologists point out that the family and the society could play a greater role to ensure that there is a steep decline in the suicide rates. Experts are of view that strategies involving restriction of access to suicides have proved to be an effective method in reducing the suicide rate. As far as curbing suicides in the student community is concerned, parents and educational experts could play an important role in minimizing this unsavory phenomenon.
Recently, there has also been an increase in the incidence of stress-prone soldiers committing suicide. In fact, over the last four years, more than 400 defence personnel posted in the trouble-torn, militancy-prone Kashmir Valley have killed themselves. Away from their families and always under stress and strain, these soldiers are often nudged to kill themselves.
However, according to the Director- General of Armed Forces Medical Services V.K. Singh, "Stress, low morale and denial of leave are not the underlying reason as commonly believed. In fact, we found soldiers on the border far more content and happy. A majority of the suicides occurred after the soldiers returned from their leave".
In the strife-torn Kashmir Valley where unending cycle of violence, blood-letting and killings perpetuated by Pakistan-trained militant groups has been on the rise, an increasing number of youth are killing themselves. If truth be told, the current suicide rate in this enchanting valley stands at 20 per lakh, twice the national average.
A study of suicides in Kashmir goes to show that the trend of hara-kiri has gripped every strata of society. As sociologists point out, restoration of peace by ending militancy and acts of terrorism through a mix of diplomacy and military action, could alone help bring down the rate of suicides in the State, once a celebrated land of Hindu saints and sufi mystics who propagated the message of peace, joy and brotherhood.