By SEKHAR DATTA & ANDREW W. LYNGDOH
Agartala/Shillong, Sep 11 : Tripura ranks first in suicide cases while Meghalaya comes third among the states of the Northeast with smaller population.
The 2011 statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveal that 1,35,585 people died of suicide in India, with Tripura topping the list with 703 reported cases, followed by Sikkim (184), Meghalaya (156), Arunachal Pradesh (134), Mizoram (90), Nagaland (33) and Manipur (33).
Tripura appears to have been a suicide-prone state in the past decade. The crime record bureau’s figure of 703 suicides in a year is in fact a shade lower than figures tabled in the state Assembly earlier.
The matter had been raised in the Assembly by former leader of the Opposition, Ratanlal Nath, who had attributed the “abnormally high number of suicides” to registration of unresolved murders or “political murders” in the category of suicide, by police.
Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, while rubbishing Nath’s allegations, had called for introspection and awareness programmes by social organisations to prevent suicides. Speaking on the subject, Prof. (retd) Tapati Chakraborty, former chairperson of State Women’s Commission, said there has been no scientific survey on the reasons for high incidence of suicides in Tripura.
“We know that depression because of personal and familial reasons, frustration over failure to get what one deserves often leads to suicide but an element of psychological distortion is also there; it has never inquired into scientifically and reasons have never been established,” said Chakraborty.
P. Bhattacharjee, a councillor of Agartala Municipal Council and a social activist herself, admitted that she was also baffled by the high rate of suicides in Tripura.
“There are the usual reasons but these reasons exist in other states also. Why it is so high in Tripura I cannot say,” she said.
According to the Meghalaya police website, there were 128 cases of suicide, which were reported in 2012. Of these 128 cases, 90 were males and the rest female.
In Shillong, the counselling and psychology department of the Martin Luther Christian University (MLCU) today organised a daylong programme with schoolchildren and university students on its campus to commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day.
In India, across all strata, the leading cause of death among the youth is suicide, and every 40 seconds, there is a death due to suicide.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are co-sponsoring World Suicide Prevention Day on the theme Stigma: A Major Barrier for Suicide Prevention.
University head of the counselling and psychology department Maribon V. Sangma said, “We are concerned about the trend and we would like to tackle this at the core, by investing more time with young people. We are doing our bit to provide a solution but would love to see community-based organisations taking ownership in responding to this social issue without stigmatising people.”
The university’s vice-chancellor, Robert G. Lyngdoh, in his opening remarks, said, “A few decades ago, suicide was taboo because the indigenous communities had a good support system then. But times have changed. The pressures are building up and suicide ideation is a reality today. As evolving communities, we need to take stock of the situation now.”
The university has also started a counselling help-desk where people in need can call +919856277929 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Confidentiality will be strictly maintained, an official said. The purpose of observing World Suicide Prevention Day this year is to provide responsive communities with a special opportunity to address this problem.
Stigma is also the underlying motive for discrimination — inappropriate or unlawful restrictions on the freedoms of individuals with mental illnesses or suicidal behaviour. Such restrictions can occur at a personal, community or institutional level which makes them difficult to adjust in the mainstream community.