Investigate suicide cases on priority: Himachal DGP amid increase in cases during Covid lockdown
With the number of suicides doubling in Himachal Pradesh during the Covid-19 lockdown and the exact cause not known in most cases, the state director general of police, Sanjay Kundu, has directed all 12 district police chiefs to ensure that such cases are investigated on priority.
“I have given directions to fast track investigation into suicide cases,” Kundu said, expressing concern over the spike in the number of suicides in the state during the lockdown.
481 COMMITTED SUICIDE TILL JULY 31
The number of suicides in Himachal Pradesh in the first three months of the lockdown, imposed on March 24, was twice those recorded in the previous three months. According to police data, 40 suicides were reported in January, 45 in February and 32 in March. In April, 47 people committed suicide, 89 in May, 112 in June and 101 in July. So, a total of 117 suicides were recorded from January to March and 248 from April to June.
A total of 481 people committed suicide till July 31 this year. Of them, only 55 cases were that of abetment to suicide. In the rest, domestic quarrels, chronic illness, mental illness, financial crisis and drug abuse were reasons behind victims taking the extreme step.
According to a reply filed by the home department in the ongoing monsoon session of the assembly, more than 600 people commit suicide in Himachal Pradesh every year, while about 1.3 lakh people end their lives every year in the country. A total of 1,946 people have committed suicide in the past two-and-a-half years. Among the victims, 1,197 were male and 749 female.
STRESS ON SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION
The state police have renewed guidelines for investigating suicides. It is now mandatory that in cases where the suicide victim is a female, the investigation will be conducted by a woman officer.
Station house officers have been asked to ensure that responsible officers supervise suicide cases and visit the crime scene to make sure it is properly photographed, videographed and the sketch is prepared for record keeping.
The victim’s post-mortem examination should be conducted preferably in a medical college to get the best forensic expert opinion on the cause of death.
The new orders say that the investigation officer should unearth full reason(s) for the death that is if there is any crime or conspiracy or if there’s any money, sexual, drug or network angle involved. The officers will gather documentary, technical, expert, forensic, digital and other evidences to strengthen the case.
The interview of all relevant witnesses and evidence will be conducted with stress on scientific investigation.
The DGP said that the police must also ensure the timely arrest of the accused, make recoveries of the seizures, conclude investigation and prepare a final report expeditiously.
He asked police personnel to look into suicide cases closely and not treat them as routine.
LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH AMONG YOUTH
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the 15-29 years age group. “Early recognition of depression and suicidal behaviour is important to prevent suicide,” says Dr Dinesh Sharma, an associate professor in the psychiatry department of Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla.
Speaking at a webinar organised at IGMC on ‘Working together to prevent suicide’ on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, Dr Sharma said, “The global health crisis due to Covid-19 has increased mental health issues. It is important to be sensitive towards the mental health of everyone, including ourselves.”
“We should be aware of warning signs such as social isolation, talking about suicide, saying goodbye to friends and family, giving away a valued possession or writing a will,” he said.
He said all suicidal threats should be taken seriously and help should be sought at 104, the medical helpline of the state government.