LOCK­DOWN: SUI­CIDE CASES GO UP BY 60% IN HP

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - FRONT PAGE - Naresh K Thakur and Gau­rav Bisht let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­times.com

DHARAMSHAL­A/SHIMLA: A 36-yearold debt-rid­den shop­keeper com­mit­ted sui­cide by hang­ing him­self in Kullu dis­trict on Thurs­day. He had in­curred losses as his cloth shop in Bhuntar had been closed due to the Covid-19 lock­down. It is learnt that he was un­able to re­pay the loan taken from banks and in­di­vid­u­als, which led him to take the ex­treme step.

On Fri­day, a school su­per­in­ten­dent com­mit­ted sui­cide at his workplace in Shimla. Though the rea­son be­hind his end­ing his life is still be­ing as­cer­tained, de­pres­sion dur­ing the lock­down is emerg­ing as a con­cern.

In April and May this year, 122 peo­ple have com­mit­ted sui­cide in Hi­machal Pradesh due to var­i­ous rea­sons, ac­cord­ing to police records. This is a spike of 60% in the monthly av­er­age.

A to­tal of 115 sui­cide cases were re­ported in the hill state from Jan­uary 1 to March 31 be­fore coro­n­avirus pan­demic struck. This year’s to­tal tally of sui­cides till May 31 was 237.

Data shows that on an av­er­age 38 peo­ple com­mit­ted sui­cide ev­ery month dur­ing the first quar­ter. How­ever, the av­er­age saw a jump of 61 sui­cides a month in April and May.

Police sources said most of the vic­tims were young­sters. Some had lost their jobs or busi­nesses or were in emo­tional dis­tress.

MORE CASES IN MAY THAN IN APRIL

With 81 cases, sui­cide in­ci­dents were al­most dou­ble in May com­pared to 41 in April when the lock­down was harsher. Seven­ty­five of the vic­tims were male and 41 fe­male. Mandi dis­trict recorded a max­i­mum 23 cases, fol­lowed by 21 in Kan­gra; Una 18; Sir­maur 14; Shimla 13; Solan 10; six each in Bi­laspur and Kullu; Hamir­pur five; three each in Chamba and Kin­naur. No sui­cide was re­ported in La­haulSpiti dis­trict.

‘SHRINK­ING SO­CIAL CIR­CLE AMONG CAUSES’

As­sis­tant di­rec­tor, Re­gional Foren­sic Science Lab­o­ra­tory (RFSL), Dharamshal­a, Dr Suren­der Ku­mar Pal said the pe­cu­liar sit­u­a­tion of the lock­down may have weighed heavy on the psy­chol­ogy of peo­ple.

The fear of coro­n­avirus and stress due to job and busi­ness losses may be the rea­son be­hind the in­creased sui­cide cases, he says. “The shrink­ing so­cial cir­cle due to dis­tanc­ing guidelines and in­creased domestic con­flicts are other rea­sons,” said Dr Pal.

‘GOVT TO FIND REA­SON’

When asked, chief min­is­ter Jai Ram Thakur said that it was hard to as­cer­tain if the sui­cides were the re­sult of lock­down woes. “Still, the gov­ern­ment will as­cer­tain the rea­sons in these cases,” he said.

The gov­ern­ment has launched schemes to pro­vide em­ploy­ment to those who re­turned to the state due to job loss amid the Covid-19 lock­down.

JAI RAM THAKUR, chief min­is­ter

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