[ Amar Sangno ]
ITANAGAR, Dec 10: The alarming rise in suicide cases in Seppa, the headquarters of East Kameng district, is a worrisome wave creeping insidiously into the society.
The picturesque town reportedly witnessed seven suicide cases in November alone. It is said that the victims were all teenagers, between 14 to 18 years old. The victims included five females, an old woman, and two males.
Sources say that in the past two years more than 15 suicide cases occurred in the district. But the exact number of suicides may be higher, as most of the incidents are not recorded at the police station since the victims’ families consider suicide a social stigma and a disgrace to the family.
In the least populated district, (according to the 2011 census, the total population of East Kameng is 78,690,with 39,915 females and 38775 males), 15 suicides in the past two years is an alarming rate, particularly in terms of youth mortality.
Going by the incidents, the teenagers and the adolescent youths are a vulnerable group in the district.
There is no accurate statistics on suicide mortality in Arunachal Pradesh, perhaps due to the absence of any particular department to deal with the issue. Moreover, tribal taboos and social stigma over suicide are inimical to any attempt at keeping records.
It is said that Indians account for 30 per cent of the deaths in the world resulting from suicide. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the incidence of suicide per one lakh population has increased from 10.9 in 2009 to 11.4 in 2010.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the Idu-Mishmi community has the dubious distinction of having the highest number of suicide cases. Tarun Mene, a PhD doctorate from Rajiv Gandhi University in his doctoral thesis, ‘Suicide among the Idu Mishmi Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh’ highlighted that in less than four decades, the community has had 226suicide cases.
Many factors could be attributed to the rising rate of suicides. As clinical psychologist from Midpu-based Mental Health Care, Nabam Yeni said, “There could be many reasons, like financial or emotional setback, depression, loss of hope, victimization, helplessness, psychotic depression, alcohol abuse, and serious or terminal disease,” she said.
According to the NCRB, family problems and illness are the two major reasons for suicides, together accounting for 46% of all suicides. Drug abuse/addiction (3.3%), love affairs (3.2%), bankruptcy or sudden change in economic status (2.0%), poverty (1.9%), and dowry dispute (1.6%) were the other causes of suicides.
“Listening attentively to their concerns, building a supportive environment, effective communication, empathy, and taking professional counselling would help in assisting would-be victims get over their suicidal tendencies,” Yeni suggested.
Psychologists opine that the role of parents and loved ones is crucial to motivating depressed people, as psychiatric disorder is a precursor to suicide. In contrast to this, the tribal society lacks in terms of providing care, and tends to ignore depression and anxiety.
“Our tribal society tends to ignore stress and suicidal tendencies. In most cases we are unwitting abettors to suicides by daring the victims instead of helping them,” said Dahey Sangno, Vice Chairman of the East Kameng Social Welfare and Cultural Organisation.
“Suicides can be prevented if we are able to recognize the warning signs and react appropriately on time,” he added, and suggested that civil society groups should take up such issues.
Women Welfare Organisation General Secretary, Pooza Sonam Notung, also opined that counselling programmes should be conducted to guide the vulnerable group, and even parents.
“Motivational classes should be incorporated in every school,” she added.
In the end, what is perhaps necessary is for people living with depression to truly understand the value of life – the need to live on, rather than quitting on life. For as every cloud has a silver lining, life, all said and done, is still beautiful. We just need a little shift in our focus to understand the true beauty of live, and of living.
[ Amar Sangno ]