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World Heath Day: Multiple reasons producing worrisome suicide scenario in Kashmir

Srinagar, Apr 06: At the start of his first year at Amar Singh College here, Ubaid (name changed) had a vast circle of friends who looked up to him.
An accomplished footballer, a bright student, and a guitarist, Ubaid had a successful future waiting for him. Nobody had any clue about his troubled family life.
“His parents never got along with each other. They constantly quarreled in his presence. This always left him in a depressed mood,” said Ubaid’s aunt, whose house he frequented to escape the depression at his home.
“He would often come to our place when he was low. Or, he would put on his football boots and vent out his anger on the field.”
One fateful day, he, after leaving his home in anger, jumped into the Jhelum from the bridge at Amira Kadal; his body was fished out two days later.
Ubaid’s suicide is tip of the iceberg in Kashmir, where the increased incidence of suicides, particularly among the youth, has become a serious concern for the people, particularly parents.
Dr Muzaffar, Consultant Psychologist at Centre for Mental Health Services, Help Foundation, said, “Persistent conflict between parents can affect a child’s mental health. It hinders emotional and psychological growth of a child and can impact their ability to form future relationships.”
“In extreme cases, they may develop suicidal feelings.”
Sadia (name changed), a class 12 student, sits impatiently outside the psychologist’s clinic. Two months before her board exams, she had been contemplating suicide.
Her parents “pressurised” her for a high score in the examination to be like her elder sister, who had been among toppers.
“My mother used to tell me that if I don’t score well, it would be a cause of shame for their family,” said Sadia.
Despite her repeated assurances that she was well prepared for the examination, her parents forced her to keep to her room and study till late in the night.
Consequently, she came under immense stress and made an attempt on her life. Luckily, she survived and was counseled, along with her family.
“A compelling need to excel in academics coming from the family, often tending to abuse, does cripple the student’s morale and is one of the major causes of suicide,” said Dr Muzaffar
Dr Arif Magribi Khan, a doctor in community psychiatry, said, “Most of these suicides are a result of parental pressure and high expectations not matching the student’s skills or interests.”
According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, mental health/suicide is the top reason for mortality among older adolescent girls. It was India’s tenth-biggest cause of early death in 2015 – rising two positions from 12th in 2005. Kashmir has been no exception to the rise.
Official figures reveal that 272 cases of suicide were reported in 2016, which increased to 275 in 2017.
About 263 people committed suicide in 2013.
The real number is believed to be far higher, as a lot of suicide attempts are said to remain unreported due to the associated social stigma.
An official at SMHS Hospital said, “We receive 2-3 cases of suicide every day. Unfortunately, incidents of suicides are refusing to show any decline, which certainly is and should be a matter of grave concern for all.”
Doctors said that age group of 18-20 is most vulnerable to suicides.
Dr Muzaffar said multiple reasons can lead to suicide.
“Various factors such academic pressures, personal relationship break-ups, pressures at work, interpersonal violence and intimate partner violence are some key reasons for depression amongst adolescents and young adults. Alcohol and drug abuse are some other factors that affect mental health well-being.”
Suggesting preventative measures to stop this rise, Dr Muzaffar said, “Relations are essential vitamins for mental health. Socializing in real life with neighbours, relatives and friends has to increase.”
He stressed on having a crisis centre or suicide prevention centre and suicide prevention helpline in every region.
Dr Arif agreed: “People in a depressive need someone to be heard. Such centres can become a medium. If you are able to just listen and there are chances that it may delay a victim’s suicidal impulse.”