An RTI query filed revealed of the range of reasons for committing suicide, marital discord topped the list, writes Gajanan Khergamker
- In mid-May this year, a 24-year-old married woman was arrested after her 20-year-old boyfriend Gangude committed suicide allegedly because she forced him to continue with their illicit relationship. The accused stayed with husband and daughter in a Khar slum and had been in a relationship with the deceased for the last two years. Just last year, the Gangudes shifted to Diva but would continue to talk to the woman on phone. Sometimes, she would call him over when her husband was away. Reportedly, Gangude reportedly wanted to break up with the woman but couldn’t as the woman would allegedly threaten to level false allegations against him if he tried to distance himself from her. On the fateful day, the woman called him to her home, where the two had an argument and the man consumed poison.
- Around the same time, a 45-year-old married man leapt to his death from his home through a window. Avinash Chaugule was in inebriated state and a fight with his wife led to him making the fatal move. Chaugule had been living in Borivali with his wife for several years while his extended family lived in Kolhapur. The police said, Chaugule was a drunk and would frequently threaten that he’d end his life as he suspected his wife’s character. On the night of the incident, following a fight with his wife, Chaugule telephoned his elder brother and a friend and asked them to drop in to his place to see him one last time before he committed suicide. After stepping out of the bathroom, Chaugule sat on his bed for a while and then jumped off the window. He was rushed to Bhagwati Hospital, where he was declared dead.
- In April 2012, a fight between a husband and wife over cooking lunch led to the husband committing suicide at their Nallasopara flat. The husband was a Konkan Railway guard at Castle Rock Station in Karnataka while the wife a junior engineer with Western Railway in Mumbai. Police sources maintain, Anupam Chowdhary, allegedly set himself ablaze after a fight with his wife, Mukta. The police maintained, the couple were married in 2010 and were childless.
- In yet incident, in January, a 32-year-old man set himself ablaze in front of his estranged wife’s home in Vile Parle after he was beaten up by her relatives. The husband, a driver, got married a decade back and has a girl and a boy with his wife. Following a separation four years back, the man used to frequent his wife’s house to meet his children who were attached to him.
When his wife and her entire family abused him and physically assaulted him in front of neighbours, the humiliated husband doused himself with petrol and set himself afire.
The joint family structure that India is associated with may well be the reason for the spurt in suicides.
An analysis of figures of suicide in the city reveal that while the total number of suicides in the city dipped according to figures of 2001 when compared with figures of 2010.
A Right To Information application reveals the total number of suicides in city was 1,225 in 2001 and 1,192 in 2010. However, deaths due to family issues were 185 in 2001 as compared to 528 in 2010.
Dowry dispute suicides have remained more or less the same — 34 in 2001 and 33 in 2010, while suicides because of divorce have gone down from nine in 2001 to four in 2010. 2001 witnessed 15 per cent suicides owing to family problems and the figure rose to 44 per cent in 2010.
Figures revealed that the most vulnerable to suicides were those in the age group of 15-29 followed by 30-44. Suicides in the first group have gone up to 48 per cent from 44 per cent in 10 years.
An RTI query filed revealed that of the range of reasons for committing suicide, marital discord topped the list.
Over 700 suicides in last decade occurred due to tiffs between married couples.
An eye-opener would be the fact that, in Pune, as many as 709 suicides occurred during the last ten years indicating the extent of problems faced by families. Second in line was unemployment which drove as many as 370 people to giving up their lives in the last ten years.
Together with poverty, these comprised a whopping 33 per cent rise in the number suicides from 2001 to 2010.
“We had been reading about the rise in such acts and were concerned about them. The figures tell us how serious it is and how all of us, citizens and the government alike, are collectively responsible for the mental health of others,” felt RTI activist Vihar Durve who had made the RTI application.
In all, in Pune, there were 5,548 suicides from 2001 to 2010 with more men (3,853) than women (1,695) committing the act. In 2001, of the 484 suicides, 54 were due to poverty which was a major cause.
In 2010, as many as 646 people committed suicide with a maximum number, 43 in all, due to clashes within married couples.
The studies reveal that marital discord and familial issues continue to wreak havoc among families triggering suicides and fetching into focus the failure of a social network like the joint family we presumed would be the perfect buffer and solution to alienation.
Evidently, there’s a lot of simmering hostility among families and married couples that needs to be tackled.
The state may need to do something by way of offering a support system or the family unit will need to do a bit more to ensure that security.
Living in joint family system has its own set of drawbacks
The Joint family system is promoted among India as a parampara and a socio-religious compulsion to take care of one’s parents and old. This, as opposed to a Western concept of old age homes and child care centres is perceived as a more humane, personalised way of dealing with one’s family.
However, adopting a more balanced view of the situation, it seems that the joint family system has a lot of drawbacks in comparison to the nuclear family where there’s comparatively lesser interference from in-laws and issues of privacy too.
Stress is another huge killer as it interfers directly in interpersonal relationships among couples as well as sex life which takes a bashing. The need to have a destressed environment is of pivotal importance here.
Apart from the above two, there’s the rising cost of living and soaring inflation levels which prevent a couple from being able to enjoy one’s married life with a comparative level of ease. With prices on the incline and couples finding it hard to make ends meet, rifts are an inevitable conclusion creating situations where, for the weak, it’s easy to nip life itself and end all the suffering.
The state will need to take the initiative to improve standard of life and living in general among its people. The onus of ensuring a good life primarily rests on the state.
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Readers keen on seeking help on drafting RTI applications may write in to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Gajanan Khergamker on 022-22841593 for any assistance on RTI or to have their findings / issue featured on this page