Tag Archives: Suicide Prevention

One in every three women who commit suicide in the world is an Indian – Inputs in Ahmedabad Mirror

Women in Gujarat are calling help. Are you listening?

By Brendan Dabhi, Ahmedabad Mirror | Sep 13, 2018, 02.00 AM IST


One in every three women who commit suicide in the world is an Indian. And, this statistic should ring alarm bells for Gujarat as women in the State are at a greater risk of committing suicide. A study published in The Lancet Public Health journal on Wednesday stated that India accounts for about 18 per cent of the world population, but nearly 37 per cent of women who commit suicide around the world are Indians.

The news is worse for Gujarat as a Lancet report titled ‘Gender differentials and state variations in suicide deaths in India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2016’ states that suicide death rate (SDR) in women from Gujarat rose from 15.1 to 15.4 per lakh population (age standardised). This is a rise of 2.4 per cent over 26 years, from 1990 to 2016.

The figure does not look like much till one realises that the SDR has gone down in 26 states. Only Gujarat, Rajasthan (1.6%) and Bihar (17.1%) has reported a rise.

Mental health experts, psychiatrists, suicide prevention officials, the police and women’s rights activists have drawn a direct parallel between helplessness that women face due to domestic abuse and mental illness to rise in suicides. There is urgent need for a suicide prevention strategy that is data-driven, gender-specific and takes state variations into account.

The long road ahead

On one hand, personal and societal pressures on people have risen and the resilience to deal with them has decreased. On the other hand, we neither have the system nor the will to set up a system for mental health and education. Public sector, private stakeholders and NGOs need to get together to set up a mental health system in the State. Money needs to be put on research on reasons for suicides and how they can be averted. When the family planning programme began in the 1960s, it was a taboo issue. Awareness was generated for 30 to 40 years where hierarchy of block- to state-level offi cers were put in place to educate people. This was repeated with HIV/AIDs awareness in the 1980s. The topic of mental health is just as taboo. We need a concentrated plan to tackle these issues.
– Dr Dileep Mavalankar, Director, IIPH-G


More than 80% of calls received by Jeevan Aastha suicide helpline are from women attempting suicide or contemplating it. On an average, it gets 75 calls daily. Of these, 60 are from women. What’s more, 15% of calls are from women suff ering from domestic abuse. Of 177 missing women rescued by 181 Abhyam Women’s Helpline in past three and a half years, 44 had run away from home due to domestic violence. This is almost 25% of the total missing women complaints. “Most suicides by women are due to family reasons. Sexual violence against women is on the rise, too. Many cases of suicide are following abetment,” said Sophia Khan, head of NGO SAFAR that works in fi eld of violence against women.

It is unfortunate but women in India are socially conditioned to take abuse, both physical and mental. Women who have been bearing violence for long are less likely to commit suicide but those who cannot take the hit to dignity are most likely to do so.

DR HANSAL BHACHECH, Consulting psychiatrist


Gujarat and Rajasthan are male dominated; women education and health awareness is very limited. Women are not able to deal with anxiety and depression and especially those stemming from ego clashes between men and working women. So there are high divorce cases too among young females.

DR PRIYANKA KACKER, Asst prof, Institute of Behavioural Science, GFSU


The Lancet study found that suicide death rate is increasing in the elderly, especially among those above the age of 80 years. Agreeing that the trend is on the rise, Narendra Gohil, project director of 181 Abhayam helpline, recollected, “Unwilling to take care of his aged ailing mother, a resident of Surendranagar tried to get her admitted to old age homes. When some of them refused to take her in, he took her to the railway station and abandoned her there. We found her and brought her to a rescue shelter in Ahmedabad where she is being provided for.” The helpline has noted a rise in trend of children abandoning their aged parents.

For the elderly, social isolation, depression, functional disability, and the feeling of being a burden on their family have been cited as reasons for suicides globally, however, not much is known about reasons for suicides in the elderly in India, the report states.

Senior citizens, especially those who are abandoned by their family or are ill-treated, tend to develop suicidal tendencies. We had a retired army major who kept crying for days because his sons threw him out of the house. In another case, a woman, who son used to drink a lot, used to lock her in the bathroom. She kept saying that she wanted to die.

BEENA PATEL, Managing trustee of Avval Old Age Home


Manisha Solanki (41) was found sitting on the railway track a week before her son was about to get married. When 181 Abhayam counsellors and the GRP took her home, her family tried to shrug off the incident claiming she was “forgetful and walked out of her home in Odhav”. Her family revealed that this was the second time she had walked out of the house without saying anything to anyone.

“There is a severe lack of awareness about mental illness. Also, due to various taboos regarding mental health in Gujarat, people rarely seek treatment. This is especially true if the woman of the house has mental health issues,” said a counsellor.

“We have 290 patients at the hospital and of those, 200 are men. So, there are double the men than women who come for treatment. Even in our OPD, 60% are male patients. Women are constantly aff ected by depression and due to taboos and lack of awareness, women are not treated,” said Dr Ajay Chauhan, Superintendent of Government Mental Hospital.

Less than half of women suffering from mental health problem, reach a psychiatrist. Depression and anxiety can be treated but the gap needs to be bridged. However, due to the taboo, women have to come to the hospital alone as family members ask them to stop pretending to be sick and be strong.”

DR MINAXI PARIKH, HOD of psychiatry at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital



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Posted by on September 13, 2018 in Interviews


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Suicide cases in Gujarat on the rise – Inputs in DNA

Suicide cases in Gujarat on the rise, reveals Directorate of Forensic Sciences data

Data received from the Directorate of Forensic Sciences (DFS) have revealed that suicide cases in the state are on the rise. As per the number of suicide cases confirmed by the DFS, which deals with authenticating the handwriting in the suicide notes, as compared to previous years, suicide cases are increasing.

As against in 2016 and 2017, 576 and 582 cases were confirmed by FSL respectively, whereas 2018 recorded 338 cases in a mere six months. Sources have said the number is likely to double in the coming months.

Officials at forensic laboratory said that predominantly, suicide letters are the maximum that come to the laboratory. Also, while there maybe thousands of cases that arrive, FSL maintains a record of only those which are confirmed.

A source said, “Many times we get a suicide note but if we find the handwritings not matching, our report says it does not match. In such a case, the investigating officer then digs deep and eventually detects a murder. Also not all cases reach FSL.”

As per the data tabled at state legislative Assembly, nearly 792 suicide cases were reported from the city in 2016 whereas 813 cases were reported in 2017.

In terms of the documents division that scans the suicide notes, 101, 110 and 119 cases were found in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Commenting on the issue, Dr Hansal Bhachech, consulting psychiatrist, said, “Increase in suicide cases may be directly related to the frustrations creeping in common people. Chief reasons for frustrations are increased cost and reduced ease of living, increasing stresses of daily life, costly and uncertain educational system, being intolerant, negativity in society in form of crimes, frauds, depression and so on. Only thing left for us as a mechanism to fight frustrations is by increasing our stress fighting capacity by physical exercise, yoga, meditation.”

He further added, “Staying away from negative news and negative people also helps a lot. These days, youth, especially need to remain socially active, not on social media but connecting with people virtually. In olden days, these incidents were quite less as loneliness was not there.”


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Posted by on August 7, 2018 in Interviews


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My Inputs in Times Of India…


Peers, not parents stressing kids: Experts….

In Age Of Social Media, Comparison Has Become The Norm

Earlier this year, the city had seen a spate of suicides by class X and XII students that had snuffed out over 10 young lives. The number of suicides by teens has gone up over past five years in the city, according to police records.

The tragedy at Odhav where a class VIII student ended his life on Saturday, just for receiving `B’ grade in school exams has now incresed the tally. Can the incidents be blamed on age-old `parental pressure’? Experts beg to differ.

Dr Hansal Bhachech, a city-based psychiatrist, told TOI that social media is putting too much pressure on teens to outperform others. “Today, a student is on multiple social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp, where he or she is constantly compared against the yardstick of others’ achievements. Thus, even if the parents might not be putting pressure, the students feel the heat,“ he said, adding that the parents also like to show off their kids’ achievements, unintentionally starting the competition.

Experts say that the earlier trend was of teens appearing for board exams in age group 15 to 17 years becoming vulnerable to mounting pressure to perform. “But today, children as young as 10-11 years show symptoms of anxiety.It greatly increases the responsibility of parents and teachers to identify the signs and address the conflict,“ said Bhachech.

Hailing from a humble background, Dhaval Parmar, 13, was good in studies according to his family members. Dhaval and Ashok, his elder brother, were studying in Jyoti High School located near their apartment in Odhav. Dhaval was upset about his school exams, but when the result was declared on Friday, his apprehensions turned true.

He ended his life on Saturday morning when his father, mother and brother had left home. He hanged himself by a dupatta from the ceiling fan in the kitchen of his residence. Odhav police officials said that they would also approach school authorities on Monday to learn more about Dhaval’s academic performance.


Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Interviews


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My inputs in today’s TOI on Suicide Notes…


Last words talk of pain, fear and disappointment….

Suicide Notes Reaching DFS Rise Four-Fold In 5 Years

On December 29 last year, Ravi Shah, a 29-year old youth from Maninagar, ended life by jumping into the Sabarmati River. From his wallet, police found a four-page note in which Shah had narrated his months-long ordeal in the hands of Karman, Mahesh and Jayram Rabari.The trio had lent him money , continued to inflate the interest and also forced him to do petty jobs for them. Maninagar police arrested the trio last month on the basis of the suicide note.

Regrettably , over the past five years, the trend of leaving behind suicide notes has gone up by 400%, making experts concerned.

Experts say that analysis of the notes provides a peek into the minds of the suicide victims and a possible key for preventing such incidents.

“Five years ago, we used to get around 15 notes each month for handwriting analysis to provide opinion on whether it matches the victim’s natural writing sample. The report establishes that there was no foul play involved. Today , the average is of around 60 notes per month. In January , we received 62 notes, out of which 45 were of high priority for ongoing court proceedings,“ said an official with state Directorate of Forensic Sciences (DFS) in Gandhinagar.

Officials added that they have found all kinds of notes ranging from written on newspaper margins to back of used postal covers. In some of the cases, the officials have got multiple notes written over a period of time, or even addressed to various persons including chief minister of Gujarat and prime minister of India.

What do the victims write in their notes? City police officials said that more often than not, the notes are written only the suicide victim wants to implicate somebody of abetment. “Suicide notes primarily mention moneylenders, defaulting debtors or monetary crisis. The next most common category is of relationship issues in both married and unmarried couples. The third category is about failure in fulfilling expectations be it academic or professional,“ said a police official. Officials said that while almost all age groups write suicide notes, the most common group is from18 to 45 years.

`Communication key to suicide prevention’

Dr Hansal Bhachech, city-based psychiatrist, said that a suicide is always aggression turned inward.“The notes reflect the aspect as it points towards a person.Many a times, the person takes the extreme step to make the others `realize’ something or prove their point. The same is true for motivation of punishing the persons responsible. We can find notes such as `take care of my mother’ or `do well in studies son’ in a few notes, showing the side of a person trying to justify the act, indicating that he or she did not have any other option left,“ he said. Professor Kamayani Mathur, city-based clinical psychologist, said that a lot goes on inside a person when he or she writes a suicide note as his or her final statement. “Family and educational institutes play a key role in shaping a person.We sometimes lose touch with the reality, and feel dejection. Timely communication between the suffering person and those in his surroundings is the key to preventing suicides,“ she said. She also mentioned the free helplines available for those feeling suicidal, and a recent initiative by state psychologists to conduct seminars in schools and colleges for positive mental health.


Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Interviews


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Mental health experts join hands to curb suicide rate – My inputs in TOI


Feb 05 2016 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)

Mental health experts join hands to curb suicide rate

Death is catching them young. Over 15 suicides by students and youths were reported from across the state in past one month.While 10 students, including five school students, ended their lives, two newly-married women also decided to end their lives by jumping from high-rises in Ahmedabad and Surat.

To prevent such incidents and to create awareness about mental health, the Gujarat branches of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Indian Psychology Society (IPS) have joined hands. The formal programme would be launched on February 7 from Rajkot, said officials associated with the initiative.

Dr Atul Pandya, president of Gujarat chapter of IMA, told TOI that the initiative would reach schools and colleges through teachers and lecturers.

“World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a guideline for prevention of suicides and identifying persons prone to factors leading to su cide. We have translated the guidelines into Gujarati and have prepared booklets for distribution. We hope that the message would be carried for ward up to the persons affec ted, and we would be able to save some lives,“ said Pandya City-based psychiatrist Dr Hansal Bhachech, said that failure or lack of money alone cannot be reasons for suicide. “Suicide is a complex phenomenon whose reasons can differ from case to case The effort is to identify early signs and intervene,“ he said


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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Interviews


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