One in 20 IT professionals at risk of suicide

One in 20 IT professionals at risk of suicide

Work pressure

His latest project was complex and challenging. Like others in his industry, Prabhakar spent sleepless nights to write the software, but it never proved easy.

Finally, on April 16, after days of sleepless struggle and inordinate pressure, Prabhakar took the extreme step of taking his life, leaving his colleagues in a state of shock and fellow professionals in the industry in despair.

Facing challenge

“People in our industry are so much after success that they don’t see the merit of facing the challenge,” said Nidhin, an IT professional and organiser of a candle light vigil for Prabhakar on Saturday on behalf of IT and ITeS Employees Centre (ITEC), an informal network to create awareness on the dangers of work-related stress and to dissuade those like Prabhakar from taking the extreme step of ending their lives. “Overload resulting in spillover of work at home, guilt of being less attentive to family, career-related issues and dissatisfaction - all add up taking a severe toll on one’s overall health and wellness,” notes a ITEC statement.

Divorce cases on the rise

“Cases of  divorce have been on the rise and the problem of childless marriages has many times become more of a lifestyle issue than a medical reason. Many people report feelings like frustration, being overwhelmed, anxiety, other health problems like headache, backache, hypertension, insomnia etc.”

According to Senthil, a senior IT professional, too much of the ‘can-do’ attitude amongst professionals and the tendency to take pressure far beyond their capacity are reasons why IT professionals are giving farmers a run when it comes to suicides.

“When you’re prepared to take too much pressure, then it’s quite possible that you’re seen as some kind of a super hero. No one would understand your limitation and would place unreasonable expectations on you. That’s clear from the note Prabhakar had left in which he had admitted to stress,” Senthil, who was at the candle light vigil, said.

The professionals feel though companies are not solely to be blamed for the situation, it is important to bring about a regulation on fair utilisation of talent and stricter
enforcement of work-life balance.

Helpline for professionals

ITEC is also planning to establish a helpline for professionals under tremendous stress and hopes that talking to psychologists and counsellors would free employees from the stress and the immediate threat of them committing suicide. They are also proposing an industry wide study on work-related stress from which companies can learn how to help their employees overcome it.

They say one in 20 IT professionals is contemplating suicide, a figure that would far surpass the national average and would also be more than the numbers seen in farming if left unchecked.

“It’s our request to all concerned not to place too much of expectation on us. We’re as human as anybody else and the fact of our success doesn’t make us any more than what we are,” said Raja, another IT professional at the vigil on Saturday.

In the absence of any other support, the IT professionals feel that time has now come for them to support each other and create awareness on the overall well-being and health rather than running after the mirage called success.

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