Assam sees sharp rise in suicide cases, Guwahati leads the figures
Assam recorded 3,243 suicide cases in 2020, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). While NCRB is yet to release data for 2021, Assam police recorded 3,302 suicide deaths last year—of them 2,391 were men and 911 women
On the night of July 7, a 32-year-old restaurateur and a popular animal activist died by suicide at his home in Dibrugarh town of upper Assam. In a video recorded prior to the act, the businessman named three persons as responsible for it.
The three, who had taken a property on rent from the businessman’s family, were allegedly threatening them for asking the trio to vacate the premises. The death hit the headlines and even chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma visited the family to offer condolences.
A fortnight prior to that incident, on May 23, a prominent businessman-cum-actor in his early 70s died by suicide at his resort in Sonapur on the outskirts of Guwahati. In a suicide note found by the police, the businessman blamed vice-chancellor of a private university, which had a campus close to the resort, of mental harassment by filing false cases of trespass.
While these two cases got a lot of media attention and also led to arrests of several persons on charges of abetment of suicide, they are only a fraction of the suicide cases in Assam, which according to official data has recorded a sharp rise in the past few years.
As per police records, in 2018 Assam recorded 2,310 cases of suicide. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures said the state recorded 2,370 suicide cases in 2019, which increased by 36.8% to 3,243 in 2020. While NCRB is yet to release data for 2021, Assam police recorded 3,302 suicide deaths last year—of them 2,391 were men and 911 women.
The state’s biggest city, Guwahati, recorded the highest numbers of suicide deaths. From 222 such deaths in 2013, the figures have steadily increased and last year 414 suicides were recorded in the city. This year, already more than 400 such deaths have been recorded in the first six months itself.
“The number of suicides has risen sharply and it’s a cause of concern. We have been trying to find ways of bringing down such deaths as certain situations and mental conditions lead such people to die by suicide,” said Guwahati’s joint police commissioner Partha Sarathi Mahanta last week.
In order to provide counselling to those who are facing mental issues, the police in Guwahati have started two helpline numbers, 6026900574 and 6026900552, where people can reach out and get help and advice from experts.
Experts feel a variety of factors have led to increase in suicides in Assam as well as in most parts of the country in the past years and the figures can be brought down with proper awareness and counselling.
They also feel that since attempt to die by suicide was decriminalised in 2018, there has been an increase in reporting of cases of suicides, which many people earlier tried to hide.
“These days, people are more aware and realise that attempt to suicide or suicides are actually manifestation of some form of mental issues a person is facing and not a crime. Hence, we see an increase in reporting of such cases,” said Dr Sangeeta Dutta, a psychiatrist based in Guwahati.
Dr Dutta feels there are three prime reasons for increase in suicides. One is related to mental issues like depression and anxiety. It may also be due to substance abuse and problems like schizophrenia.
The second could be due to personality-related disorders, lack of proper grooming during childhood, breakdown of joint family structure and parents not giving adequate quality time to children.
“Students are more into gadgets and are self-centred. Their impressionable minds get affected from what they see on internet or while playing online games. They lack necessary skills for problem solving, communication, conflict resolution and assertiveness. In a competitive and result oriented society, this can lead to impulsive suicides,” said Dr Dutta.
The third reason for suicides is social causes like lack of support system. The Covid-19 lockdown, which led to financial and professional problems in many families, removed students from their regular routines, rise in domestic violence and consumption of alcoholic substances could also have fuelled number of suicides, said Dr. Dutta.
“Till few decades back, the Assamese society was more spiritually inclined where people would gather and interact in places like ‘naam ghars’ (prayer houses) in evenings. That has changed especially in urban settings in recent years and lack of such avenues can also play a part in suicides,” she said.
If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist.
Helplines: Aasra: 022 2754 6669;
Sneha India Foundation: +914424640050 and Sanjivini: 011-24311918,
Roshni Foundation (Secunderabad) Contact Nos: 040-66202001, 040-66202000,
ONE LIFE: Contact No: 78930 78930, SEVA: Contact No: 09441778290