K. Sugantha Priya alias Suganthi, a mother of two boys, drank acid because her husband would not agree to her decision to set up a grocery shop in Bangalore.

“I had a provisions store in Choolaipuram village in Usilampatti. Business was dull and I told my husband to consider moving to Bangalore but he refused,” she said.

She had serious problems after the incident and underwent multiple surgeries. She moved to Chennai with her family for treatment at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (GH) and has since built a new life.

Today, Suganthi is an example to survivors of acid-related accidents.

“I now own two shops that sell construction material. I have built a big house in Red Hills. I hate coming for endoscopy and am sometimes irregular,” she said. Her brush with death also revealed to her that her husband was a reliable man, she said. On Tuesday, as part of World Suicide Prevention Day, GGH honoured survivors, volunteers, doctors and nurses who made it possible for victims of acid-related accidents to start life anew.

Six years after G. Akilandeswari consumed acid, her life has changed dramatically. Today, the 30-year-old works as a lab technician in Kancheepuram.

“My aunt scolded me and I didn’t want to live,” she said. She now lives with her brother’s family. “He is disabled and my sister-in-law has two children to tend to. They are everything to me,” she said.

These survivors have now turned counsellors for other victims at the hospital’s surgical gastroenterology department.

K. Dhanalakshmi says her daughter Vinothini drank acid in 2011 because of family problems. Vinothini can only whisper and needs many more surgeries before she can become normal.

Akilandeswari and Suganthi counsel victims when they come to the hospital for review. “We tell them it is not worth dying. There is talk in government circles about preventing the sale of acid. It is a positive move as there should not be easy access to acid. What we did altered our lives permanently. Acid can cause so much damage to the body. We have gone through a lot of pain and we don’t want others to go through it,” said Suganthi.

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