Wake up Tripura and North East, too many suicides!

Suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions. Awareness on mental health too is a must. Unfortunately all this lacks in Tripura and the other north eastern states are not far behind.

A report published by the National Crime Reports Bureau (NCRB) reveals that Sikkim and Tripura had the highest suicide rates in North-East India in 2019 which exceeded the national (average) level suicide rate. Sikkim ranked first with 33.1 percent of cases and Tripura reported 18.2 per cent of cases. Earlier in March this year, a data furnished in the Tripura Legislative Assembly stated that from 1st March of 2018 to 25th February of 2020, a total number of 1,466 suicide deaths were reported in the state.
After Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh reported 7.4 per cent cases, Assam reported 6.9% cases and Meghalaya 6.1% cases. Nagaland and Mizoram occupied the bottom positions recording 1.9% cases each. Quoting from the NCRB report, "Every year, more than 1, 00,000 people commit suicide in our country. There are various causes of suicides like professional/career problems, sense of isolation, abuse, violence, family problems, mental disorders, addiction to alcohol, financial loss, chronic pain etc." The 2019 report (of NCRB) stated that apart from these causes the other causes leading to suicide across the country were drug addiction, bankruptcy, failure in examinations, unemployment, property dispute, professional problems, illness and marriage-related problems. Incidentally, family problems and illness were found to be the major causes of suicides in the country that accounted for 32.4% and 17.1% of total suicides.In Northeast India, Assam recorded 242 suicide cases due to marriage-related problems. Meghalaya occupied the second place in this regard with 16 cases. On the other hand marriage-related suicides were 11 in Sikkim, two each in Tripura and Mizoram, one each in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Manipur had no such case. Similarly, Assam accounted for the highest suicide cases (in Northeast) that happened due to illness and family problems. In Assam a total of 615 suicide cases were attributed to family problems and another 157 cases were attributed to illness.In Tripura 403 persons had committed suicide due to family problems and another 153 cases were attributed to illness.
Suicide cases in the seven sister states exceed the national average
According to sociologists, family problems are a very complex term that includes several aspects. Financial impoverishment is intrinsically (though not always) related to family problems. For instance in a tragic incident that had occurred in the last week of November last year a couple residing in Sanyasipara village in West Tripura district had committed suicide after poisoning their two children allegedly due to poverty and pressure of debts. Forty-year old Paresh Tanti and his 36-year old wife Sajani had first poisoned their five year old daughter, Rupali and eleven-year old son, Bishal and then committed suicide by hanging themselves from the branches of a tree in a jungle near their house. The police had stated, "Tanti had taken loans from two financial institutions and was unable to pay the installments. He also bought a piece of land, but could not obtain the papers regarding sale deeds. We are investigating the case from different angles to unearth the truth." The opposition CPI-M had stressed that the incident had happened due to lack of work and food. "The state is reeling under acute shortage of work and food since the BJP-IPFT government came to power 20 months ago. There are cases of selling of children, hungry people are hitting the streets demanding food and works", a statement by the party had made headlines then. This incident had rocked the state and is a classic example of suicide due to poverty. Anyway according to an international survey report published in 2016 over 79% percent of global suicides occur in low and middle income countries The North-east is a backward region of the country, where many states surpass the national average of suicides.
Representative image
Image: Representative image
The question is how can these be averted? Dr. Anjana Bhattacharjee, assistant professor of clinical and forensic psychology of Tripura University had expressed her dissatisfaction over the awareness which plays a crucial role to prevent the tendencies of suicides."There are multiple reasons for suicides like social and cultural factors, personal factors, and many other complex identified factors. To prevent suicide, awareness generation is the single and only way forward. Unfortunately, so far no work has been done in Tripura to create awareness in terms of mental health," Dr. Bhattacharjee said.Interestingly Dr Bhattacharjee also said that the number of impulsive suicides is very less. In the majority of cases people plan before committing suicide and they do give few signs and signals to their family members like anger, loneliness and sudden behavioral changes."In this case the most important thing is support- spending good times with family and friends is critical for a person who is contemplating suicide. If their problems are heard and they seek professional help in time many unfortunate cases can be averted", the professor added.Dr. Dipayan Sarkar a psychiatrist of Tripura also repeated the same things and said that depression is the primary cause of suicide and depression can come for many reasons, including economic conditions. He observed that more men commit suicide than women. "Apart from depression, people who are prone to suicide have adjacent psychiatric disorders that need treatment. Some have drug addiction. Actually there are many reasons behind a suicide case and awareness is a way to resist it", Sarkar stated.
A report published by WHO last year stated, "Every year close to 800 000 people take their own lives and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan of a human being and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally in 2016.Suicide is a serious public health problem. However, suicides are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions. For national responses to be effective, a comprehensive multi-sectoral suicide prevention strategy is needed.

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