Choose Life, not Exit

The alarming rise in suicide cases in the Valley is something we need to be mindful of and need to deal with, collectively.

Mir Tanveer

SUICIDE can be a painful phenomenon to witness or even known about. Unfortunately in the Valley of Kashmir, the incidence of this horrible phenomenon seems to be rising.
Suicides were once unheard of in the Valley. It is deeply saddening that now they seem to be occurring with regular frequency. Scores of suicide cases have pained the Valley in
recent times. Let it be reiterated, that besides being a spiritual sin, the act of suicide rattles a victim’s family, his neighbourhood, his community and the fellow members of the
society. Without getting too much into the painful side effects of witnessing suicides, let us dive into understanding as to what could be driving individuals to taking such an extreme step here in the Valley.
As said earlier, years ago, the frequency of suicides in the Kashmir Valley was low as compared to the scenario now. Especially, the bridges and the areas around the Jehlum bund are turning out to be a major spot for such incidents. Recently, in multiple incidents, timely rescue operations have saved lives of quite a few persons attempting suicide. But our concern and focus should be on what is making our fellow Kashmiris so helpless and hopeless that they choose to end their lives?

Why choose the end?
In Kashmir, multiple factors could be responsible for such incidents – ranging from years of conflict and disturbance, a range of socio-economical factors, failure in romantic
relationships – especially among the teenagers, or those with depressive and mental health conditions. As per a recent report released by Crime Gazette for 2021, Kashmir recorded
586 suicide cases in 2021 and 472 in 2020.

The numbers say it all
As per the statics of the National Crime Records Bureau, the suicide rate in Jammu and Kashmir has steadily increased over the past few years. In 2019, the state reported a suicide rate of 10.3percent per 100000 people which is higher than national average of 10.2percent. In all these static reports, the suicides are on the rise in the Kashmir Valley and this attributes to multiple factors. In a recently released report regarding unemployment in India, the Kashmir Valley is among the leading regions having
thousands of unemployed youth struggling for secure jobs. In a report released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment rate in UT stood at 12 percent higher than the national average of 6.1perecnt. In all conditions, the non availability of job opportunities and placement is adding to the stress among the educated youth of the Valley, thus pushing them towards the menace of suicide. Besides these, a deep
rooted drug-addiction problem and depression are also responsible for rising suicidal incidents in the Kashmir Valley.

Dr. Arif Magribi Mental Health Expert

During an interaction, a leading expert of mental health issues in the Kashmir Valley Dr Arif Mahribi said that effective suicide prevention is based on sound research. Programmes
that work, take into account, the risk factors in a particular region and encourage interventions that are specific. In Kashmir, depression, drug-addiction, failure in exams and
domestic violence top the causes in suicide. All government or non government organisations need to make intervention- based programmes to reduce suicide. Psychotherapy can effectively reduce risks. One of these is known as cognitive behavioural therapy. It can help people learn new ways of dealing with stressful experiences by training them to alternative action when thoughts of suicide arise. Another research from Media Studies says that newspapers or electronic media platforms should never prominently report suicides committed; but thanks to their obsession with TRPs, they present all this unnecessary data and news. The result is that depressed minds open up to the idea of suicide.


Mr. Waseem Kakroo Clinical Psychologist

Another leading clinical mental health expert and counsellor from the Valley Waseem Kakroo Sahib, says: “It is essential to understand that suicide is a complex phenomenon with multiple causes including biological, psychological and social factors. Individuals who experience trauma, stress and a sense of hopelessness and helplessness may be at a high risk of suicide.
Additionally, the stigmatisation of mental illness and lack of mental health services may further enhance the problem in the Valley. In all these conditions, the need of the hour is to raise awareness of mental health issues in our society, and have multiple stakeholders in this collaboration.
A senior citizen points that the trend of Kashmiri youth getting inclined towards suicide, is a matter of grave concern. “Materialistic competition and stressful life experiences have
made them vulnerable to psychiatric problems which ultimately prepare them for the extreme step,” he explains. In all these conditions, timely counselling, support of the family
and the society, will help bring the incidence down. This is a menace that is shaking up our very existence and we need to unite to fight this out.


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