The Digital Dimension of Suicides 

By Khalid Mustafa

A few weeks ago, I like many others, witnessed the phenomena of rise of suicide case in Kashmir. It immediately got me thinking about the possible reasons behind it. Ofcourse, it wasn’t too tough to measure the triggers like covid-19 stress, drug abuse, unemployment and mental health issues. I was also at peace knowing many government bodies as well as NGOs had taken up this issue. Infact, many media houses had immediately taken up measures to interview mental health professionals to raise awareness around suicide.

As a techie, I feel another aspect needs to be evaluated. It is the increasing trend of video call, phone call and SMS scammers, social media cloning and other digital scams. This is a very difficult situation as many young people are susceptible to falling for these and then being blackmailed into paying money they do not have. The kind of content that may be compromised can also be such that it may discourage the victim from reporting to police. Professionals, especially businessmen can also be blackmailed similarly. What way can they find out of it, in case they can’t meet the demanded amount of money?

Too often, the data that is compromised can be too personal. This may deter people from reporting the crime to authorities and may even isolate them further as they wouldn’t be in a position to share it with their family and friends as well. This is especially the case with young people who too often end up in trouble.

Previously too, I have highlighted the menace and dangers of cybercrimes. The lead role to curb its negative repercussions can only be mitigated by the police along with the support of the family.

The purpose of highlighting this issue is not to scare people off of the internet. But as it has become such an integral part of our lives, we need to be more vigilant and responsible about its use.

All stakeholders need to come onboard; family, authorities and civil society. The triggers for suicide need to be assessed in a holistic manner. This includes a focus on cybercrimes. As a community, we need to stay in touch for real.More and more isolation is only going to push us into a digital hole of vulnerabilities.

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