Pink slips fuel sui­ci­dal ten­den­cies among IT work­ers

India Today - - COVER STORY -

Ban­ga­lore, the Sil­i­con Val­ley of In­dia, is ac­quir­ing a new al­beit un­savoury tag. That of be­ing In­dia’s sui­cide cap­i­tal. The Ac­ci­den­tal Deaths and Sui­cides in In­dia 2012 re­port points out that 89 peo­ple ended their life last year due to job losses and un­em­ploy­ment. The fig­ure in 2011 was 47.

Shaken by pink slips or the fear of los­ing their jobs, techies, many of them in smaller firms, are log­ging out of life. Wor­ry­ingly, it’s not just Ban­ga­lore that is fac­ing the heat. A sur­vey done in Hyderabad this month by Dhrithi hos­pi­tal with a sam­ple size of 127 soft­ware pro­fes­sion­als re­vealed that:

Six­teen of them had been sacked from their jobs re­cently.

Ten of them had stray thoughts of com­mit­ting sui­cide.

Four techies had al­ready at­tempted sui­cide pre­vi­ously.

“In the past four years we have been see­ing techies come in with job stress anx­i­ety and in­abil­ity to cope with cost- cut­ting,” says Hy­der­abad­based con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist Dr Purn­ima Nagaraja. “Once techies are on the bench, it is as good as the pink slip be­ing waved in your face. So a lot of techies who used to jump jobs eas­ily are now barely hold­ing on to their jobs.”

A soft­ware pro­fes­sional who has been out of a job for nine months told IN­DIA TO­DAY he even re­searched on the most pain­less method to com­mit sui­cide. “We were con­stantly wor­ried that we may lose our jobs. We were on projects and if they were fin­ished and we did not get a re­newal, we were re­moved. I was idle for nine months and then came back to my orig­i­nal com­pany. I was also in debt. I was scared,” he says.

Psy­chi­a­trist Dr Shyam Bhat, who hosts a call- in talk show on a ra­dio sta­tion in Ban­ga­lore, says the fact that the max­i­mum num­ber of calls are from young peo­ple, is a cause for worry. A city like Ban­ga­lore acts like a mag­net for soft­ware pro­fes­sion­als from all over the coun­try, who of­ten lead iso­lated lives away from their fam­i­lies. So when they are un­able to cope with stress at the work­place,

they do not have the buf­fer of a fam­ily to cush­ion their prob­lems.

Dr Ni­ran­jan Reddy, Hy­der­abad­based con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist, says, “I meet a lot of peo­ple who have lost their jobs. They would have been draw­ing a salary of Rs 1 lakh and one fine morn­ing, they are left with no job. In that state of help­less­ness, they do not know what to do. Those who have low self- es­teem, low self­con­fi­dence re­act badly.”

In the last four years, there has been an 8 to 10 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of techies seek­ing coun­selling in cities like Hyderabad, Chen­nai and Ban­ga­lore. A clear in­di­ca­tion that many in this youth seg­ment are feel­ing dis­con­nected with the ecosys­tem of their work­place.

Roshni is a Hyderabad- based helpline that gets hun­dreds of calls ask­ing for help in deal­ing with sui­ci­dal ten­den­cies. Dr Sucharita, coun­selling psy­chol­o­gist, Roshni, says, “They have fam­i­lies, loans, and are well es­tab­lished in so­ci­ety.”

Cor­po­rate houses have re­alised the grav­ity of the prob­lem. There has been a 15 to 20 per cent in­crease in cor­po­rate houses hir­ing coun­selling ex­perts in the last cou­ple of years. Karthik Shekhar, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Union for IT En­abled Ser­vices In­dia in Ban­ga­lore, says, “Com­pa­nies must have fo­rums. Give them a break. There should be a work- life bal­ance.” by T. S. Sud­hir

MAN­DAR DEODHAR/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com


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