Surge in calls from people with suicidal tendencies remains a cause of concern

Compared to 2020, suicide rate in Kerala has registered a near 3% jump in 2021

September 10, 2022 08:16 pm | Updated September 11, 2022 07:34 am IST - KOCHI

Image for representation.

Image for representation. | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

As World Suicide Prevention Day was observed on Saturday, the surge in the number of calls received by Maithri, a Kochi-based organisation working for suicide prevention, from emotionally distressed people with suicidal tendency remains a cause of concern.

The number of calls has almost doubled in the last couple of years from the previous four to five calls a day. This seems a vindication of the latest National Crime Records Bureau data according to which the rate of suicides in Kerala had registered a near 3% jump in 2021 compared to the previous year, while the national average had only increased by a mere 0.70% during the same period. The number of suicides has risen from 8,500 to 9,549 between 2020 and 2021.

“Relationship issues seem to be the major trigger of emotional distress of people calling us. We have experienced increase in the number of calls from people with suicidal tendencies. Though they have no clear plans about suicide, they share their feeling of putting an end to their lives,” said Maithri director Lenitha Annamma Joseph.

That many companies are yet to return to offline mode leaving men to still work from home seems to have put wives who are homemakers in a lot of stress as they feel like their freedom has been curtailed. This has led to friction in relations and triggered suicidal tendencies among them.

A majority of calls received at Maithri was from people in the 20-50 age group while those of 18 years and above also seem to be in a lot of emotional stress owing to the increasing dependency on social media. “With more time being spent at home, they have become more reliant on social media and relationships forged through it. Setbacks in those relations leave them in a lot of emotional trauma,” said Ms. Joseph.

Calls related to fractured relationships with in-laws, which used to dominate in the past, seem to be on the wane. “Lack of understanding and appreciation continues to affect interpersonal relations between husband and wife, partners and those involved in affairs. Premature relations seem to be a major cause of emotional stress among youngsters and students. When it comes to the elderly, the pandemic still seems to leave them fearful and restrict their mobility, triggering emotional stress,” said Rajesh R. Pillai, former president of Befrienders India, the nodal body which coordinates the activities of national helplines or member centres that work towards suicide prevention.

An average call received at Maithri lasts anywhere between 45 and 75 minutes while there are also calls that last hours. The organisation now has 35 volunteers who work on four-hour shifts between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. (Maithri – 0484-2540530)

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