Residents say they need help coping with the increasing number of suicides

This Kerala Dalit colony is seeing a wave of suicides but it isnt getting the help it needsLathika
news Social Issues Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 18:28

A suicide attempt of a 17-year-old girl was thwarted by her mother in MSK Nagar Colony in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. The girl, according to her family was upset about her relationship with a boy from her neighbourhood.

Such cases are not new to the residents of this Dalit colony who has seen a slew of suicides over the years. 

There are more than 1,000 people living in 120 houses in the colony, located in the heart of the city. Yet, no one is paying attention to their cry for help. 

R Lathika, a 55-year-old resident of the colony has lost two sons in their early 20s, in a span of one year. Her youngest son Abhijit was 22-years-old when he died in February 2015. 

“He had, a relationship with a girl and had some problems which led him to take his own life. Both of my sons were very sensitive. Abhishek was 26 when he committed suicide on November 2016. He was depressed after his brother’s death, both of them were very close,” Lathika said. Both her sons hanged themselves at home. 

Breaking down into tears, Lathika says, “I lost them. I don’t know what else to say. This should not continue, somebody should help the people here," she says.

26-year-old Vishnupriya is a mother of five children. Her husband Sujith (33), an auto-driver committed suicide in July 2016. “On that day, his auto had met with an accident and had caused some damages. When he came home he was very stressed and depressed. I told him not to worry, that we could repair it. But he hanged himself,” she told TNM.

Vishnupriya and family

Now she lives in her own house in the colony and her mother, a domestic help, is the lone breadwinner of the family. “My father is bedridden, I have five children, the eldest is eight-years-old and youngest is one-and-a-half-years old. How can I go to work leaving them at home? I have no idea how long we can live like this,” she says.

In another instance,14-year-old Neethu lost her father Shaji when he set himself ablaze six years ago. “I saw him pouring kerosene over himself and I couldn’t stop him. He had some family problems. When I used to hear about suicides in other houses of our colony, I never thought that this would happen in my house,” Neethu said.

Shaji's parents Nirmala and Surendran

Another death was in April this year, of 46-year-old Rajan’s. Rajan was allegedly charged in a fake case and was in jail. The day he returned from jail on April 17 he hanged himself.

“Nobody has even bothered to conduct a study or collect data from this colony even after so many deaths were reported. As per a rough data we collected, an average of five to seven people attempts suicide in a year here. In the last five years around 50 people have attempted to die. Alcoholism and weak family relationships were some of the main reason we could find,” Sanil Kulathunkal, a local congress leader, who was working in the slums of Thiruvananthapuram said. 

“We have sent a lot of complaints to authorities to look in to the issue. A good counsellor is an immediate necessity for the colony. Most of them are daily wage labourers and many types of exploitation also takes place. They need social and mental support. Free or subsidised ration is not the only necessity in such colonies,” he added.

Sanil says that instead of appointing some NGOs or agencies to look in to the matter it is better to form a committee involving the residents of the colony.

“A good medical support, as well as support from within the community will help them. I along with few women have been promoting organic farming there, which also tackle stress and pressure,” he said.

Sukanya, 20, a resident, who has formed a group with Sanil to bring a change to the colony says that nobody is interested to know what is happening inside the colony.

“I remember five years ago a woman who lived just opposite my house set herself ablaze and died. I did not even know the reason. Back then I felt it was a common occurrence in our colony. Now I realise that it is actually a problem. We need help,” she said.

All Photos : Sreekesh Raveendran Nair


Edited by : Kannaki Deka



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