Two decades ago, Jammu and Kashmir had the lowest suicide rate in the sub-continent, but figures from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that the incidence had witnessed a 44.3 per cent increase in 2012. Independent studies indicate suicide to have become the second common cause of unnatural death in the Valley.
A study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry at the Government Medical College in Srinagar reveals that over the past three years, an average 3.5 persons have reported daily to the SMHS causality with suicide, para-suicide and deliberate self harm (DSH). In most cases of completed suicide, the subjects are males falling in the age group of 25 – 34. But most attempted suicides are by females, with four times more para suicides and seven times more deliberate self harm.
According to a noted Valley sociologist, suicide attempts by women are mostly a cry for help. But the statistics of the past months prove the expert partly wrong. On an average, two women take the extreme step everyday in the conflict-torn Valley, reports suggest. The conflict has definitely taken a toll on mental health in Kashmir but the reasons for recent suicides, especially by women, reflect the disorganization of both the individual and society in Kashmir. Experts give several reasons for this high incidence – ranging from failed love affairs to unemployment. Sometimes the reasons are too trivial to justify an emotional response. Remedial measures such as providing a support system and involving the clergy have been suggested.
A Class 11 student ended his life following severe scolding by his parents for getting scoring 91 per cent in a term examination when he had scored 95 per cent in the previous test. But when the parents realized their mistake, it was too late. Experts attribute this rising suicidal tendency among males to psychosocial factors like traumatic stress, poverty and unemployment, while among females domestic violence, multiple traumas, are cited as major factors. They further say that declining religious values, lack of religious education, nuclear families, and ever-increasing performance expectations and unemployment are interacting with chronic conflict stress and increasing mental health problems to create an issue of a magnitude that needs urgent and emergency attention