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Bhopal Witnesses Sharp Increase in Suicides During Unlock 1, 57 Died in 34 Days

Kashif Kakvi |
Psychiatrists and police claimed that suicidal tendencies have increased among students, job aspirants and working class between 20-40 years of age, due to job loss, unemployment and uncertainty looming over their future post the lockdown.
Bhopal Witnesses Sharp Increase in Suicides

Image for representational use only.Image Courtesy : Free Press Journal

Bhopal: The state capital of Madhya Pradesh has witnessed a substantial growth in suicide cases since the relaxations on the lockdown induced restrictions were introduced since June 1 through the first phase of Unlock. In the last 34 days alone, the city has witnessed 57 cases of suicide, while 58 people died by suicide during the 71 days of lockdown, according to Bhopal police.

On June 30, seven people died by suicide, the highest so far on a single day in Bhopal, while 20 people have ended their life in the last 10 days.

The police claimed that job loss, business failure, unemployment and financial crisis are the prime reasons behind these suicides. Domestic dispute and sudden aggression are also to be blamed, they added.

Police reports further reveal that the highest number of suicides were reported in the age group of 20-30 years, who were either students or government jobs aspirants, followed by those aged between 30-40 years, who are mostly businessmen or belong to the working class who have lost jobs or failed to find employment post the lockdown.

Veteran psychiatrist and former Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Hamidia Hospital, RN Sahu claimed that usually the number of suicidal attempts are three-fold higher than the actual suicide cases. “If 57 people have died by suicide in the last one month then more than 150 have attempted suicide,” he said.

The reasons behind these suicides are varying. In one such case, an adolescent took the step when his parents refused to recharge his mobile internet pack. In another incident, a woman ended he life when her husband took away her mobile phone.

NewsClick has earlier reported that a similar trend is visible in the state’s Khandwa district, with 27 people dying by suicide between May 17 and June 19. The increasing number of deaths due to suicide indicates a very dangerous trend. In 2018, MP witnessed 480 deaths by suicide according to police data.

Also read: COVID-19: Suicides Mount in Bihar as Poverty Tightens its Grip

Psychiatrists and experts also blame the lockdown and the fear of COVID-19 infection, in addition to the uncertainties induced by job losses and business failure as the reason behind suicidal thoughts.

Psychiatrist Sahu claimed that he has been seeing 20-25 patients each day who express their suicidal thoughts, and has been receiving at least one or two cases of attempted suicide every day.

“People are under huge stress triggered by Covid-19 lockdown. Majority of them are aged between 20-40. Many patients claimed that they are having sleepless nights, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and they are worried about their future,” he said.

Another psychiatrist Ruma Bhattacharya claimed that at least a dozen people who have survived suicide have approached her in the past couple of months. “Perhaps the cases of suicide increased because of the stress factors triggered by COVID-19 lockdown. They are locked for months, feeling irritated within the walls, and reacting unexpectedly on trivial issues.”

Sociologist and Dean of National Law Institute University Tapan Mohanty said that the cases of suicide have risen during Unlock 1 because factory owners, shopkeepers, businessmen and small companies are laying off their employees to cut their expenses.

“People are losing jobs, students are stressed about their future, businessmen have incurred losses in the lockdown and workers, who have returned from the big cities, are facing financial crisis. These elements are putting strain on them and people who failed to handle this pressure took extreme steps,” he told NewsClick.

“Those who have been getting suicidal thoughts should talk to their close ones or be able to access medical help,” he advised.

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