Gangtok, Sept. 9: Nearly 30 people have killed themselves in Sikkim even after a helpline was set up at the STNM Hospital here on June 1 to counsel those with suicidal tendencies.
The helpline has received a poor response, which was blamed on lack of sensitisation by the councillors.
“The response to the suicide helpline number has been very poor. There have been only few calls where persons with suicidal tendencies sought counselling,” said Dr. C.S. Sharma, the senior psychiatrist of the STNM Hospital.
According to data provided by the Sikkim State Crime Record Bureau, 29 suicides were reported from the state in June and July. All the 29 people have hanged themselves. The record also says there were 181 suicides in Sikkim last year.
According to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau, Sikkim had the highest suicide rate (number of suicides per one lakh persons) in India in 2012. Sikkim’s suicide rate is 29.1, followed by Tamil Nadu (24.9) and Kerala (23.6).
The helpline numbers which have been providing free counselling to people suffering from depression and those with suicidal tendencies are 03592202111 and 18003453225.
“We received a couple of calls from the local people, but many of them were prank calls. We also have a success story to tell. A housewife from Gangtok was cured after she received counselling from our doctor. She was suffering from depression and is perfectly fine now. It took almost two hours to convince her over the phone to meet us for medication. Later, we found out that the reason for her depression was her alcoholic husband,” said Sharma.
A senior doctor at the hospital said one of the reasons for the few calls was lack of proper sensitisation. “Calling a helpline is a new trend in Sikkim. Many people have no idea of it. This could be one of the reasons,” said a doctor.
Sharma said the prevalence of suicides were more in the age group of 25-45 years. He also said there were cases in which schoolgoing children and people above 50 years have also committed suicide.
“In one of the cases, an eight-year-old child who tried to commit suicide said his parents had wanted him to come first in class. High expectation and extreme academic competition often lead students to commit suicide,” a doctor said.