By Aniqa Haider
Saturday, June 30, 2012
MORE Indians have committed suicide in the last six months than during the whole of last year, according to the latest figures.
Twenty-one Indians have killed themselves since January, compared to 11 in 2011.
The figures, released by the Indian Embassy, have sparked growing concern about how to tackle the problem.
Adliya restaurant worker Santosh Kumar Nagaraj, 21, from Tamil Nadu became the latest person to take his life when he was found hanging in the storeroom of a restaurant where he had gone to collect fresh sheets and gloves on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Hercules Wrought Iron Factory worker Podimon Geevarghese Yohannan, 44, from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, was found hanging by a rope from a ceiling fan in his room in Riffa.
Mr Yohannan’s suicide came just nine days after Pasupathi Mariappan, 33, from Tamil Nadu, was found hanging from a palm tree in a public garden in Hamad Town.
“This figure is alarming and we need to take immediate steps to prevent it,” said an embassy spokesman.
“There are 21 suicides out of 106 total deaths, compared to 11 suicides out of 163 deaths last year and 11 suicides out of 197 deaths in 2010.”
The spokesman said most of those who had killed themselves were low-income workers with financial problems.
“Some workers may have family issues, which they are afraid to share with anyone,” he said.
“Many have problems with their sponsors, have not been paid for months, have financial problems, some are without their passports, some are illegal residents and some are not happy with their family members.
“But if they have any issues related to the embassy, they should immediately contact us.
“We can provide them consular services, speak to their employers and get their wages, issue an out pass so they can leave the country, and there are all sorts of assistance available, except finance.”
The spokesman said travel ban was another problem facing Indian workers.
“For example, Mr Mariappan‘s company reported him absent from work and his visa was not valid,” he said.
“He was distressed as he didn’t have a job or finance and was unable to go back home due to the travel ban imposed on him.
“According to his friends, he knocked on several doors and was upset and had no other option but to kill himself.
“Meanwhile, Mr Yohannan was drinking too much and spent all his money on that and didn’t send any to his family back home, which raised issues.
“This made him take a drastic step and kill himself.
“We need to raise awareness among people, especially low-income workers.”
The spokesman said the problem was that most of the workers at risk of committing suicide are illiterate.
“I don’t think workers have time to read newspapers, check a website to get the hotline or read brochures or pamphlets,” he said.
“We need to start a campaign and ask our volunteers and social workers to visit different labour camps and speak to the workers individually and register their complaints and then follow up on their cases one by one.
“We must keep a track and follow up on the most vulnerable people.
“We need to start an awareness campaign for people on how to cope with stress.”
Indian community leaders earlier called for urgent steps to offer counselling to people with suicidal tendencies so that they could be prevented from taking their own lives.
Indians in distress can call round-the-clock on hotlines 39523969 or 39010782.
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