Staff Reporter

Expert says inmates must be screened for suicidal tendencies and those in the risk group, counselled.

KOZHIKODE: P.N. Suresh Kumar, secretary of the Thanal Foundation Trust, has suggested that jail inmates be screened for suicidal tendencies.

He was speaking at a workshop organised here on Thursday for the District Jail authorities on “How to prevent suicides inside jails,” on the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day.

Dr. Suresh Kumar suggested that a suicide prevention programme be launched in jails. Young inmates showed a greater tendency to commit suicide because separation from family and friends hurt them the most. The inmates should be screened for any abnormal behaviour, such as talking to oneself and complaining of hearing non-existent sounds, and suicide attempts in the past.

He said those identified as showing suicidal tendencies should be counselled. In case of suicide, the jail authorities should convene a meeting to discuss whether all preventive measures had been taken or not.

Flurry of cases

This was important because in jails, there could be a flurry of suicides for at least four weeks after one suicide. The jail authorities should hence be trained to handle those with suicidal tendencies. The training was easy and short.

He said the suicide rate among women prisoners was low. A reason for this might be their low numbers.

Dr. Suresh Kumar said depression was one of the main reasons for suicides. The suicide rate would be high among drug addicts.

Ashokan Arippatta, Jail Superintendent, said the best places to undertake suicide prevention measures were jails as people there experienced the gravest mental pressure, raising the possibility for suicides.

Alcohol consumption

City Police Commissioner S. Sreejith, who inaugurated the workshop, said the per capita consumption of alcohol was higher these days.

The per capita consumption was calculated by taking the whole population, including women and children and adult male teetotallers. So, the alcohol consumed by the drinking population was much higher than the per capita consumption.

Sunil Kumar, District Jail Welfare Officer, said that jail employees too suffered from mental tensions.

Benny Joseph K., director, Thanal, presided. A.K. Abdul Khader, chairman of the trust, released the Malayalam version of a manual containing guidelines for jail employees on suicide prevention in jail, by presenting a copy to Mr. Sunil Kumar.

K.V. Prabhakaran, president of the Indian Medical Association Kozhikode unit, spoke.

Classes were taken on various topics by Meenu Pothan, consultant psychiatrist, and others.