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Suicide jumps: Alarming trends

india Updated: Jul 18, 2006 04:22 IST

Ajeet Anthony Joseph's suicide on Monday could be part of a worrying trend. With more and more people jumping off high-rise buildings, psychiatrists say that they have a reason to believe that suicides are "contagious".

According to them, every time suicide spots are "glamourised" (like the District Centre in Janakpuri), it provides several others contemplating suicide a modus operandi to follow.

Six people have committed suicide in the last three months by jumping off the District Centre alone. This points to the theory of  "copy cat suicides", says Rajesh Sagar, head of the psychiatry department, AIIMS.

"When a spot has frequent suicides, people with suicidal tendencies relate to it and identify themselves with the previous victims," Sagar said.

Psychiatrists blame the media, which shows the exact way a suicide was committed without knowing that they might be paving way for another one.

"Unnecessary information is given about how the suicide was committed. Inappropriate portrayal can lead to more deaths due to copycat suicides. People at risk think that suicide is the answer to their problems and take the leap instead of coping with stress," Jitender Nagpal, consultant psychiatrist at VIMHANS, said.

Experts also maintain that seeing pictures of suicides could lead to an increase in suicides. “In Germany, a series on suicides was aired on television and during that time the suicide rate had alarmingly increased. In India, however, no formal or official study has so far been conducted but there is a developing trend, especially in students during exams,” added Sagar.

"In India, poisoning, hanging and drowning are more common compared to jumping off a high-rise building, which is relatively new. We need an aggressive campaign for prevention of suicides, understanding, exploring and enhancing skills of a person to cope with the emotional stress," added Nagpal.