An expert at the clinical psychiatry block of CIP, Kanke, takes a distress call on Wednesday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Young urbanites from Ranchi, Dhanbad and Patna are flooding the 24/7 suicide helpline set up by the Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP) in Kanke, baring deep chasms in what were seen as traditional cities with strong moorings.
In barely 17 days of its launch on August 27, psychiatrists and professors of the CIP have received calls from nearly 500 people, 75 per cent in the age group of 20 to 30 years, in their two toll-free numbers — 1800-345-1849 and 0651-2451116.
Half the callers had even attempted suicide before seeking counsel.
While most callers are from Ranchi, Dhanbad and Bihar’s capital, residents of Daltonganj, Hazaribagh, Bokaro also call. Students apart, elderly people, homemakers and husbands combating suicidal tendencies call up experts for solace, surprising experts with the intensity of their desperation.
Students fret about marks, careers, romantic failures and socio-economic aspirations. Homemakers speak about abusive in-laws while husbands say they feel depressed as their wives don’t show their “care”.
Women do not specify dowry-related problems but broader incompatibility with in-laws.
What is most shocking is that elderly people call up to say that they see no reason to live. “Our grown-up children even deny us food” is a common complaint.
“We had not imagined that the number of people with suicidal tendencies would be so large. Everyday, we get 30-32 calls, half of whom confess they had attempted to kill themselves earlier,” said Neha Singh, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at CIP, Kanke.
Apart from Singh, three others — assistant professor of clinical psychiatry Jyoti Mishra, clinical psychiatrists Swarnali Bose and Deyashini Lahiri —counsel callers.
The experts are available for callers round the clock, even on cellphones. Six callers had even been asked to come to CIP for counselling.
“Among youths, most distressed callers so far are boys, who say they can’t cope with academic pressure, cut-throat competition and failed affairs. Girls also complain about studies. Shockingly, five or six teenagers in Plus Two call up everyday, saying they can’t deal with parental expectations of high marks,” said Mishra.
Jharkhand’s suicide rate is growing, especially in Jamshedpur, Ranchi and Dhanbad.
Jamshedpur has recorded 134 cases of suicide this year till August. In the same eight months, Ranchi and Dhanbad have around 40 and 35 cases. NGO Jeevan runs a helpline (0657-6453841) in Jamshedpur.
On Monday, the capital witnessed two suicides. Shristi Kumari, a Class XI student of Tender Heart School, and Rekha Devi (30), a homemaker in Dhurwa, killed themselves.
Shristi didn’t say why in her note, while a family quarrel was the homemaker’s trigger.
The profile of victims is changing. Mala Singh of Birsa Institute of Technology (Trust), Anuj Mehta, an ISc pupil of Gossner College and Arnab Mukherjee of BIT-Mesra killed themselves. Bright and young, no one could have imagined them snuffing out their lives.
“When we get a call from someone for whom life has lost all meaning, we try to point out in practical terms why life is worth living. Time will tell how successful we are,” said Singh.