Sharp spike in suicide rates in Kashmir a matter of concern

Youth especially vulnerable, issue will have to be addressed collectively

by WebDesk
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Suicide, the act of intentionally causing one’s own death, is a painful phenomenon for every society. Unfortunately in the Valley of Kashmir, this trend is growing. Rising suicides are becoming a monster for the society.
Suicides were once unheard in the valley of Kashmir. It is tragic that now, they are occurring with regular frequency. Scores of suicide cases in recent times have pained the entire Kashmir. An act of suicide by a person rattles his family, his neighbourhood, his community and all others.
Various factors at play
Mental disorders (including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorders, anxiety disorders), physical disorders (such as chronic fatigue syndrome), and substance abuse (including alcoholism and the use of and withdrawal from benzodiazepines) are risk factors for suicides.
Some suicides are impulsive acts due to stress (such as from financial or academic difficulties), relationship problems (such as breakups or divorces), or harassment and bullying. Those who have previously attempted suicide are at a higher risk for future attempts.
Effective suicide prevention efforts include limiting access to methods of suicide such as firearms, drugs, and poisons; treating mental disorders and substance abuse; careful media reporting about suicide; and improving economic conditions. Although crisis hotlines are common resources, their effectiveness has not been well studied.
Alarming spate of youth ending their lives
Today Kashmir woke to the tragic news of another suicide. A 20- year- old boy allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself to death in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Wednesday morning.
The boy was identified as Azhar Bashir, son of Bashir Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Khanipora Utrasoo in Anantnag. He hanged himself to death at his home.
The whole of Kashmir was recently rattled by the suicide of girl at Sopore. On December 12, a student of Class 9 in north Kashmir’s Sopore area ended her life by jumping into river Jhelum. The body still remains unrecovered. Her relatives and friends kept waiting on the Jhelum embankments. People were also praying for her long life and early recovery.
Higher rate in Kashmir as compared to Jammu
Year by year, suicide rate has witnessed an increase in Kashmir. The rate rose sharply last year. In 2021, about 600 people attempted to end their lives in Kashmir Valley. In Jammu 20 such cases were reported during that period.
The Crime Gazette 2021 was recently released by Jammu and Kashmir Police. According to it, the valley is witnessing an increase in attempted suicide cases. Central Kashmir district Budgam and North Kashmir’s Baramulla top the tally with 73 cases each, and crime rate of 4.36 per lakh population.
These realities are painful. Rising depression due to turmoil, unemployment, poverty etc making the suicide picture of Kashmir ugly. The society needs to play its role in preventing suicides in Kashmir. Community and religious leaders need to develop an indigenous mechanism to address this issue. But so far they are failing to do so.
Suicide accorded low priority in Kashmir
Unfortunately, Jammu & Kashmir faces numerous issues from insurgency to illiteracy to unemployment and other health related challenges. Hence suicide is accorded low priority in the competition for meager resources.
The psychologists in Kashmir valley say post Covid, stress may be triggered by many issues like financial, relationship issues and isolation. All these may make people take the extreme step of suicide.
Doctors feel that awareness among the youngsters must increase across Kashmir Valley. The doctors also say that there is a suicide contagion that needs to be prevented.
Rising number of suicides is been a burning issue in the rest of the country as well.
Importantly, India reported the highest suicide rate in its history in 2021, with 12 suicides for every 1,00,000 people. Experts say this might be a reflection of better reporting of deaths by suicide rather than an actual increase in the numbers. Also, despite an increase in reporting, experts say the National Crime Records Bureau might be undercounting suicides by women.
In Kashmir Valley, the need of the hour is that society elders and scholars take the lead in reach out to those facing depression and help them in their difficult times. We need to provide more spaces to people of Kashmir to vent their pain so that the sharp rise in suicide rate is arrested.
Student suicides a tragic phenomenon
In yet another painful facet, student suicides in India reached an all-time high in 2022. As per reports by National Crime Records Bureau, NCRB, student suicides saw an increase by 4.5 percent as compared to 2021. Out of these deaths, 14 cases have been reported from Kota, Rajasthan – the coaching centre hub of India.
According to media reports, three students from Kota took their own lives within 12 hours. Two of these students were NEET aspirants and one was preparing for JEE Main. Including these three students, a total of 14 students have been reported to have died of suicide while preparing for the competitive entrance exams.
Let us all join hands to end monster of suicides in Kashmir and the entire India.

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