New Delhi: The
tattered printout of an email, a blood-soaked bedsheet and the
laptop screen flashing an image from the Facebook account left
open is all that 26-year-old Shivani Mhatre remembers about the
night of April 2, 2011.
Mhatre's family was busy catching the India vs Sri Lanka cricket
match of the World Cup finale on television when Shivani, a
marketing executive, made an unsuccessful attempt to end her life
over a failed relationship.
"At that given time and moment, it meant the end of life. He
(boyfriend) wanted time to build his career and was not ready for
marriage. My parents wanted me to get married," Mhatre confessed,
her kohl-smeared eyes full of tears as she recalled the fateful
night when she lay unconscious with a slashed wrist before her
parents found her.
"I have moved on since that day… but a minute of impulsiveness
made me spoil my career. I scarred the faith my parents had in
me…," she told IANS. Sharing a two-room apartment with her parents
in south Delhi's Amar Colony, Shivani changed her job to avoid
stigma, legal proceedings and uncomfortable questions.
Mhatre is not alone. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2009
report leaves a chilling statistic of 15 suicides every hour in
the country, with one in three victims aged between 15 and 29
years. The age group is resorting to suicides as the emotional
quotient dips and impulsiveness rides high, say experts as Oct 10
is observed as World Mental Health Day.
"If we take the population size between 15 and 29 years, we have
four suicide attempts per minute in India. Everything has changed,
from the lethality of methods used to the reasons - urban areas
have terribly gone wrong in reading the young minds," Sunil Mittal,
senior consultant, psychiatry and psychotherapy at the Delhi
Psychiatry Centre, told IANS.
"There are aspirations and the inability to cope with shattered
dreams. When you are young, you are short-tempered, judgmental,
impulsive and tolerance is low," Mittal added.
Problems ranging from a broken relationship to financial crunch
are causing mental health disorders like depression, bipolar
disorder and anxiety disorder. Gender, say experts, has a lot to
do with the reasons over which a person goes for suicide.
"Suicide comes later. Before that, there is a lot playing in the
head of any person with suicidal tendencies. For women, emotional
reasons count more, but for men it is the financial world and
dependent family that could be the reason," Mittal explained.
The NCRB report also pointed out that social and economic causes
led most of the males to commit suicide, while emotional and
personal causes drove women to end their lives. States such as
Jharkhand, Bihar and Orissa reported far fewer suicides that the
"If you take into account the existent rural and urban divide,
then this could be logical. But the reporting of suicide is not
common in India because there is a stigma associated with it. When
someone attempts suicide, the family prefers to bury the matter
quickly without involving the police," said Rajesh Sagar,
assistant professor at the psychiatry department of All India
Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Interestingly, farmer suicides had shot up by seven percent
between 2008 and 2009, with nearly 17,368 cases reported across
Experts blame the communication gap and individualistic lives that
the youngsters are leading for suicides in a section of society.
"Upbringing these days is amidst verticals such as stiff
competition and rush. When we see parents coming to us at the
AIIMS, we notice the sense of reward is missing. Adolescents are
diagnosed with high-risk behaviour that can later take the shape
of suicide," Sagar told IANS, adding that "supervision and the
communication bridge between parents and children is nowhere to be
Sagar added: "This is just one aspect of it. At AIIMS, we try and
tell families that give the person who has attempted suicide a
chance. Suicide itself denotes that the person was desperate to
find a way out and cried for help."
Even as the World Health Organisation (WHO) notes that depression,
one of the causes of suicide, will be the second-most prevalent
condition worldwide by 2020, experts say the thrust lies on
"It's high time we decriminalised suicide. The problem is cases of
suicide or attempts at suicide are under-reported due to fear of
medico-legal cases," Mittal said. "Even if they are reported,
there might not be much persecution, but the person is stigmatised
for the entire life."
(Madhulika Sonkar can be contacted at email@example.com)