Suicides remain cause of constant concern for Sikkim, over ten cases in three months
Between January and March, there have been over ten reported suicide cases in Sikkim. If that seems like a small number, it should scare the reader a bit to know that the worrying phrase here is “over ten reported”, which means the figures run upwards and some of them haven’t been ‘reported’ and verified by the law enforcement authorities as such.
Sikkim is notorious on a national scale for having a consistent reputation of being one of the states with the highest rate of suicide and it comes as no surprise that 2021’s NCRB report will no doubt have statistics that will show a similar story. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just hurt the economy, as people casually say without giving a second thought to who and what makes up that word, it has also broken many homes.
In the last three months, one of the youngest people who succumbed to suicide was a 13-year-old and the oldest was a 57 year old. Needless to say, there is no particular age where a person contemplates and goes through with a plan of ending their life. It is only the circumstances surrounding the person and the mental state that prompts them to take such a drastic step without thinking twice about the lives they leave behind.
As it has been a regular topic on this media portal, the main reason behind various organizations and people building discussions on mental health has only been to raise awareness and increase storytelling of the reasons why and how one could come up with serious solutions to this harrowing problem rather than just publishing a stiff report from time to time which goes stale ever so quickly especially in an era where everything is ‘content’ and information is in excess.
If one looks up “Sikkim suicides” on google, they might come across an article by The Quint titled “Why Rich, Progressive Sikkim Has India’s Highest Suicide Rate”. As a citizen of the state, it is shameful to firstly consider itself progressive when mental abuse, domestic violence and alcoholism/substance addiction are causes for these serious headlines and concerning, deeply concerning that given the frequency of updates on suicides, it is somehow becoming normalized as if it is a part and parcel of life.
There are more articles on the Internet probing into Sikkim’s depressing crisis and still, there is no community-based answer on how to fix it. People are quick to say “but the government should look after this and devise something to solve it!” but when faced with a person going through a mental breakdown or self-harm periods, they choose to either weaken the person’s resolve further by stating that it is just a phase or worse, ignore it completely.
Suicide is categorized under “unnatural death” in police records and the reason should be self-explanatory. Nishant*, a recovered substance abuser who had tried taking his life some years ago reflects on COVID-19, the lockdown and Sikkimese society.
“I learnt a lot from the rehabilitation centre I was admitted to, from not having the comfort of home to dealing with guilt over what I did”, he says. “The minute I realized suicide wasn’t the answer was right after I overdosed. It was hard to be with my family and myself after that. Even after I came out, it took me time to adjust.”
He recalls catching quick comments whenever he strolled around his area once he was home on his appearance and his past. “I thought it wouldn’t bother me but it did. It took all of my energy not to react because I kept hoping people would change. A few did after a while but some people didn’t really believe I had changed. They would ask me why I did what I did but even if I told them the truth, it didn’t change how they saw me”.
This is a singular person’s experience. Despite having survived, society would rather focus on looking down at a momentary lapse of judgement triggered by trauma and substance abuse, rather than support them for making a change. Yet, it could be one person’s story of survival and determination that could inspire another to stop contemplating a fatal mistake.
Sikkim has a long way to go before its suicide statistics decrease to single-figure digits, which might seem impossible but one can always hope for the best, and the biggest change it has to make is the mindset of people.