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Delhi family deaths: Minds can be influenced, say experts

Experts say if the Burari incident was indeed a family suicide pact, then it could be the result of a belief system that each one of them strongly adhered to.

delhi Updated: Jul 03, 2018 10:08 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Burari deaths,deaths in Burari house,mass suicide
An ambulance at the spot where eleven members of a family were found dead in their house in Delhi's Burari on the morning of July 1, 2018. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

The alleged mass suicide of 11 members of a family living in the outskirts of Delhi has rattled even the experts. With police investigation still on, most believe it is quite premature at this stage to comment on how the deaths actually took place. However, if it indeed were a family suicide pact, then it could be the result of a belief system that each one of them strongly adhered to.

“Suicide pacts are normally driven by a couple of key factors such as socio-economic status where the victims see no future, mental illness engraved in socio-economic factors and a strong belief system that you are doing it for a bigger cause,” says Dr Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare.

Mass brain-washing is not unheard of; organised crime, say experts, is one classic example of mass brain-washing.

“Generally, in mass suicides, the common element is the belief that is sold to key people by a person of authority in a closed environment,” says Dr Parikh.

Also, in a closed environment, a person’s vision, meaning and understanding of the world is majorly influenced as that is all they would have known in life.

“The core aspect is the belief system, which leads to a particular behaviour. And whether the belief is right or wrong does not matter. How that belief reached you is not important only the belief and the need to adhere to it is what matters,” says Dr Rajesh Sagar, professor, department of psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

Minds can be influenced, and circumstances play a key role.

“The circumstances need to be analysed in this situation. How much force was used, specially psychological , or whether hypnosis or some kind of drug was used needs to be checked,” says Dr Sagar.

“In such cases, dynamics of the family also play a major role. There are families that blindly worship the patriarch and would obey his commands without questioning his authority.”

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 10:08 IST