Guwahati, Sept. 25: Assam witnessed around 15,000 suicides in the last five years, most of the cases involving men aged between 30 and 44 years and women between 15 and 29.
A study of suicide cases registered with the state police since 2008 showed that most men committed suicide out of frustration on being unable to meet rising financial needs. Most women, on the other hand, took the extreme step following emotional problems.
Though the instance of 30-year-old Barun Kalita and his wife Anamika ending their lives in the Brahmaputra here on Monday because of their inability to bear the treatment cost of their daughter Riyasmita brought to focus a heartrending tale of poverty-induced desperation, in many cases, it was found that boys or girls, barely between 10 and 14 years of age, ended their lives over trivial issues like being scolded by their parents.
Clinical psychologist of Gauhati Medical College and Hospital Mythili Hazarika attributed the disturbing trend to decreasing levels of patience and the spirit to cope with the pressures associated with a fast changing life — both career and family-wise.
Between 2008 and 2012, 146 boys aged between 10 and 14 years committed suicide along with 99 girls of the same age group.
CID officials said most of these cases were of school students committing suicide following poor performance in examinations or on being denied things or being scolded by their parents. “Recently, a young girl committed suicide in Guwahati after her parents turned down her request for a pair of bangles. Young people should understand that this world has a lot of opportunities for them and they should prepare themselves for the ch-allenges,” a CID official said.
Rajiv Daulagupu, a young life-skill trainer here, said lack of empathy, appreciation of life and its limitless opportunities led many towards suicide.
“The reasons might be numerous but solutions lie on us. Risk becomes manifold when one is not aware about the self and more unfortunately, has no proper guidance and support during crises in life. In today’s ever-changing, wants-amplified world where negative emotions are high and sensitivity low, we must put some time and money on scientific research to understand the roots of the problem,” Daulagupu said.
While many suggested that the concept of volunteering should be encouraged, particularly among youths, to help them appreciate life more, many, however, said though growing frustration was forcing many urbanites to end their lives, people in Assam’s rural areas were taking the extreme step because the numerous government welfare schemes were not reaching them properly.
Citing Barun’s case, Mukut Kalita of People’s Rights Forum, an NGO, told The Telegraph, “In places like Nalbari, people in villages are being forced to give up farming because of increasing inflation and decreasing recovery of costs from sale of their produce. They are selling off their land and coming to Guwahati in search of jobs in security agencies and private firms. Some are also working as vendors.”
“But many of them often find it hard to cope with the soaring prices and end up being frustrated. And if, in the mean time, a dependent comes down with a major illness, as had happened in the case of Barun, they tend to reach the end of the tether. If Barun had been fully aware of the government scheme for babies with heart ailments, he would not have taken the extreme step,” Kalita added.
The Assam health and family welfare department had introduced a scheme in 2010 whereby children with congenital heart diseases from low-income group families were operated upon for free at Narayana Hrudayalaya in Bangalore and Calcutta. The state government even bears the travel charges and other expenses incurred during the procedure.
Body recovered: The body of Anamika, wife of Barun Kalita who had committed suicide in the Brahmaputra with their 10-month-old daughter, was today found floating at Sualkuchi in Kamrup district.
The body was identified by her family members and handed over to them after an autopsy.
River police superintendent Nitai Ghosh told The Telegraph that search operation continued in the river till 5pm today but the bodies of Barun and the baby remained untraced.
Barun’s family members in Haribhanga village of Nalbari district, about 90km from here, yesterday said the couple had ended their lives with their daughter Riyasmita as they were unable to bear the treatment cost of the baby who had a hole in her heart.
On Monday morning, the couple had come from Nalbari and hired a boat at Sukreswar temple ghat on the bank of the Brahmaputra for Rs 500 and jumped off it in the middle of the river.
Meanwhile, members of the Assam unit of Aam Aadmi Party today staged a protest near Dighlipukhuri here blaming the state government for the tragedy. They alleged that the couple ended their lives as information on the state health department’s scheme to provide free treatment to children with congenital heart disease had failed to reach them.