Govt indifferent to spiralling suicides in Kashmir

Govt indifferent to spiralling suicides in Kashmir

Govt indifferent to spiralling suicides in Kashmir

There has been a steep increase in rate of suicides in Kashmir in the last two decades of conflict. Expe­rts blame it on indifferent attitude of the government and society as one of the major reasons for it.

They say people who are directly or indirectly linked with preventive measures are unfortunately doing nothing to address the issue.

According to a survey conducted in 1989 by the Bangalore-based National
Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, the rate of suicide was 0.5 per cent per lakh people in Kashmir. A survey using the same tools was repeated in 2010 and rate of suicide was alarmingly high at 15-20 per lakh.

Kashmir’s leading psychiatrist Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Margoob says in the present scenario, copy-paste solutions and redundant alien interpretations can’t stop people from resorting to drastic step like suicide. What is needed, he says, is collective response from members of all walks of life, irrespective of their social status and profession to evolve a multi-pronged strategy with provisions for
immediate action, short-term objectives and long-term goals for practical

“Problems we have been facing don’t have only materialistic solutions, but they do have more powerful divine and spiritual way out which an imam, a priest or a learned scholar is supposed to pass on and communicate with the masses in the context of ground realities of a particular period,” Dr Margoob told Deccan Herald.

Urging religious leaders to come forward and play their role in making people aware about the hazards of drug abuse, he said, “Ulemas and imams should create awareness among the people about the hazards of drug addiction, corruption, and other social problems which have engulfed our society. They should deliver sermons in the light of religion and explicitly clarify by the practical examples of the Prophet (SAW).”

Arif Maghribi, a freelance mental health doctor, says unfortunately not much has been done in Kashmir regarding prevention of suicides, “except seminars attended by only a particular section of society.”

He says a majority of people in Kashmir have become indifferent to these
horrific suicides which itself is very disappointing. “We might claim that we all
follow religion in the right spirit, but reality is altogether different,” he said and added in Kashmir depression, drug addiction, failure in exams and domestic violence top the causes of suicides. “All government or non-governmental organisations need to make intervention based programmes to reduce suicides. Psycho­therapy can effectively reduce suicide risk,” he said.

Dr Maghribi claims that most of the district hospitals in the Valley don’t have antidotes present for commonly used poisons. “A large number of deaths take place while shifting patients from far-flung areas to city hospitals,” he revealed.

Experts also blame the degradation in moral and religious values for the alarming trend in suicides. “Society is going in a very horrible direction. The cases of fema­le homicidal burn cases only point out that society is drifting away from
cultural, traditional and religious values,” says Principal of Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar, Dr Rafiq Ahmad Pampori. He advocates for introducing moral education at school level to curb the menace.

Echoing his views, Dr Arshad Hussain, psychiatric consultant at the GMC, Srinagar, also advocates involvement of religious institutions to counter the trend. “Unlike the West, we may not be able to set up counsellors at school, society and hospital levels. But as masjids are traditional institutions in Kashmir, the priests can act as mass counsellors on issues like suicide and female homicide,” he told Deccan Herald.

This, Dr Hussain said, will help in two ways. “Masjids and religious gatherings will make people aware of this disturbing trend in society. Then, we hope that religious prohibition of suicide will discourage people from taking the extreme step,” he believes. He also advised parents against pushing their children into the mad race of successes. “Time has come for people to educate youngsters about failures too rather than pushing them into the mad race of successes. Some people have very low level of tolerance and struggle to cope with stress. There are people who often commit suicide for slightest of provocation,” the psychiatrist added.

A senior doctor at the GMC Srinagar, who wished anonymity, claimed that the government was doing very little to stop rampant drug abuse and rising rate of suicides in Kashmir.

He said tighter legislation along with a strict enforcement of drug dispensing procedures from local chemists can help in the goal of prevention of suicidal deaths and attempts, the doctor added. 

He claimed that lack of medicines, staff and infrastructural facilities, including ill-equipped primary and secondary health centres, were another reason for more persons dying after attempting suicides.

“These difficulties are compounded at the primary centres due to non-availability of ambulance services. Many a time, ambulances will have no fuel or driver will not be available. Many a time, the vehicle is used for other purposes also. All the above factors lead to high percentage of patients being referred along with the delay in referrals,” he added.