SRINAGAR, INDIAN-OCCUPIED KASHMIR: While twenty years back, valley had the distinction of having lowest suicide rates throughout India (0.5/100,000), past few years has shown a visible spurt in cases of suicides, Para-suicides and deliberate self harm (DSH) especially among women. With growing incidents of crimes against women being reported on a daily basis, valley women are increasing seeking refuge to the sufferings by taking the extreme step of committing suicide. More than 60 percent of those who commit suicides are women, reports say.

Twenty five year old Asiya (name changed) is diagnosed high on suicidal tendencies by doctors at valley’s premier Shri Mahraja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital. Two months ago she was admitted in the hospital after having consumed an overdose of sleeping pills. With multiple marks on her wrist, doctor’s in charge say that her case is a typical example of deliberate self harm (DSH).

Dr. Arshid Hussain in his well researched paper states that suicidal behavior has become one of the commonest emergencies in medical casualties of Kashmir. Given to the current status of suicides in the valley, Dr. Hussain cautions that the predictive rates could be as high as 13/100,000, which is close to the rate in rest of India i.e. 10.3/100,000.

“Suicide is becoming the second common cause of unnatural death. According to WHO estimates for the year 2020, approximately 1.53 million people will die from suicide and 10-20 times more people will attempt suicide worldwide. This represents that on an average one suicidal death takes place every 20 seconds and one suicide attempt every 1-2 seconds worldwide”, Dr Hussain , Assistant Professor at Government Psychiatric Hospital states in his study.

As per the report carried out by Dr. Hussain, on an average 3-4 cases of suicidal behavior are reported to the casualty ward of SMHS on daily basis making it around 900 such cases per year in SMHS hospital alone. The study wherein 14,830 case files were studied reveals that women made more suicide attempts and belonged to higher age group than their men counter parts. “Most of the suicide attempts are made by female- 4 times Para suicides and 7 times more deliberate self harm”, reads the study.

Dr B.A. Dabla who conducted a research on the same topic three years back agrees that there has been a considerable rise in the suicide rates among women in Kashmir primarily in the age group 15-40. However, Dabla says that only few such cases are reported while the actual data is much higher. He says that 227 cases of women suicides that were reported in 2011 formed only a small part of the actual figure.

“In my study that I conducted in 2009-2011, I found enough evidence proving that women’s proportion is much higher when it comes to suicides. In 2011, only 227 cases of female suicides were reported, which only forms one third of the actual report”, said Dabla, a prominent sociologist at the University of Kashmir.

Besides psychological disorders, domestic violence and family disputes are said to be the major factors tilting balance towards extreme behavior.

“The main reason could be women being emotionally weak towards handling stress. Women are more prone to depression that may also lead to suicide. The discrimination on the basis of gender can also be one of the reasons. Because women are quite sensitive, they tend to react emotionally rather than rationally. And finally end up committing suicides”, said Dr. Dabla.