Any rookie crime reporter will tell you that a “suicide case” is, on most days, a given on Bangalore's crime menu. This is no surprise.
For, an average of 5.9 people are ending their lives every day, going by the recently released National Crime Record Bureau statistics for 2009.
Firmly perched atop the list of big cities, for the third year in a row now, IT City has earned the ignominy of being the “suicide capital” of the country.
Having overtaken Chennai in 2007 — which has gone from 2,427 reported suicides in 2006 down to 1,412 in 2009 — Bangalore registered 2,167 suicides in 2009.
Far above average
Bangalore also records the highest rate of suicides, a shocking 38.1 (per one lakh population), far above the average suicide rates in cities pegged at 12.5.
In absolute numbers too, Bangalore overtakes other cities by a long mile with Chennai reporting 1,412 suicides, Delhi 1,215 and Mumbai 1,051, all substantially lower than Bangalore. Things looked up a bit in 2010, when, according to the City Crime Records Bureau, the number came down to 1,778.
Hanging and poison are the most recurring methods employed to commit suicide. Sociologists point out that while this rising number could mean that Bangalore is maintaining better crime records than other places in India, that the figures have remained somewhat constant for over six years now is indeed disturbing.
But, why Bangalore? G. Gururaj, professor and head of Department of Epidemiology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, said that increasing urbanisation, industrialisation, migration of people from rural areas and consequent changes in lifestyle are the primary issues.
There's a way out
Experts say that starting more counselling centres or helplines, and making this part of the public health system can make a difference. “What is important is to realise that suicides are preventable,” he said.
Asserting that suicide is not the solution to any crisis, Dr. Gururaj had a word of advice for people who may be prone to bouts of severe depression.
“Whenever there is a crisis situation, learn to cope. Communicate your distress to others. Sharing your problems will help you learn about others' experiences and learn from it. If anyone gets a suicidal thought, he should learn to postpone it. Even postponing the thought will help one come out of depression,” he said.
While the support of friends, family members and colleagues is important in suicide prevention, people should also seek the help of counsellors, psychiatrists and doctors, Dr. Gururaj adds.