Suicide: A Storm Brewing

Amjed Ashraf

THE everyday news of suicides has left one unnerved and numb. Besides, when such acts take place around the corner, the scare is inscrutable.  Suicide— a deliberate and impulsive act of ending one's own life— has hauntingly been rampant in Kashmir. Especially among the youth; the prevailing situation paints a perilous picture that is more perplexing than it has ever been in the recent past.

Broadly speaking, according to the World Health Organization report, more than seven lakh people worldwide, die every year due to suicide. Many psychologists and psychiatrists emphasize that factors like mental disorder, chronic pain and illness, traumatic experience, helplessness, financial crisis, unemployment, isolation play an indispensable role in this act. Likewise, according to the data accumulated by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed around six thousand suicide cases in the last two decades. In 2018, Jammu and Kashmir recorded 330 cases of suicide and 284 cases in 2019. The report further outlines that the substantial cause behind the majority of suicide cases in Jammu and Kashmir goes unknown and the other causes include unemployment, family pressure etc. Ever since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation has ostensibly worsened further. Now, it appears that the phantom of suicide looms large in almost every nook and cranny of the valley.

In Kashmir, the economic,  and biological factors responsible for suicide are well discerned, but one can't turn a nelson's eye to the conspicuous fact that it is more of the sociological, geographical, and psychological factors that primarily drive individuals to these unfortunate deaths. According to a survey conducted in 2015 by a humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), around 45% of the population in Kashmir valley are trapped in mental distress. Given the past few years, mental health issues could be highly prevalent across the valley hitherto. The active cases now can be far more than the above statistics. This is palpable because, in a conflict-ridden area, various kinds of devastations keep competing with each other daily.

Besides, the other main factors that accelerate the suicide rate especially among youth are both psychological and sociological in nature and occur mainly due to relationship breakdown, family conflict, abuse, violence, bad parenting and excessive use of the internet, mobile phones and computers etc. These factors lead to the disintegration and detachment of an individual from society. Unfortunately and inadvertently, our collective apathy and indifference furthers this lack of integration of an aggrieved individual. This leaves the affected ones forlorn and impels them to shut themselves within themselves. These factors alienate a person from society, as a result, they find it difficult to cope with the situation. Hence, introvertive peculiarities overpower them and they feel compelled to commit suicide.

Suicide is a global and complex phenomenon. Considering the Kashmir scenario, the social fabric has always been at test. Our society is currently bearing the brunt of this horror in full swing. In these circumstances, the onus is on us more than ever before. To prevent suicides, collective efforts are required at different levels.  Firstly, to impede the menace of suicide among the youth, parents need to inculcate moral and ethical values in their children; especially from a tender age. They need to encourage their young children to strive for good and despise wrong. They need to pay attention to their behaviours, commiserate with them in their hard times, understand their individuality, and spend some quality time with them to abridge the gap that exists between them. Secondly, religious and moral education needs to be imparted to both lettered and unlettered at different levels, irrespective of age. A serious lack of religious awareness exposes a large number of individuals to such menaces today. Thirdly, as responsible and conscious citizens of society, we are required to back emotionally and socioeconomically such individuals—to the best of our capabilities—who fell victim to mental, financial and other crisis. Moreover, underneath the act of suicide lies the fallacious belief that death is an eternal escape from the transient tribulations of life, that needs to be hacked off through large-scale awareness campaigns. A storm may be brewing, but together we should—we can, and we will—definitely turn the tide.

  • The author pursues law at Central University of Kashmir and can be reached at [email protected]

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