Delhi’s high-rise buildings becoming suicide zones?

By Sahil Makkar, IANS

New Delhi : High-rise buildings in the Indian capital are increasingly becoming the chosen place to commit suicides. And police officials say they have no ready solution to end this madness.

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According to Delhi Police statistics, only three people committed suicide by jumping off high-rise buildings in 2004. In 2005 the number went up to 20 and in 2006 to 36. Police say at least seven such incidents took place this year.

Rajni, a 26-year-old woman, jumped to her death June 22 from the office of Emmanuel Hospital Association, an NGO at Dipali Towers in Nehru Place. She had been accused of stealing Rs.500,000 in cash from her uncle's house here.

On June 28, Ramesh Kohli committed suicide by jumping from the fourth floor of a business centre in Janakpuri in west Delhi. The 45-year-old's family said he had been depressed for two months.

On June 10, a young housewife ended her life from the eighth floor of the same building.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Manish Aggarwal told IANS: "With the increasingly busy pace of life, the tolerance level among people has gone down drastically. People are competing with each other and don't have the support system to cope up with pressure. This is resulting in more suicides."

Another police officer who did not want to be identified added: "Committing suicide by jumping from tall buildings is the trend here. It's almost impossible to prevent people from taking their own lives."

He said that deploying security personnel at vantage 'suicide points' at all high-rise buildings was practically not feasible.

In any case, said the official, police deployment could not be a solution to the larger problem.

"People also end their lives by hanging themselves in their houses, so police deployment is definitely not an answer. We have to strengthen our social support system. It's a social issue and needs to be addressed by society," he said.

According to psychiatrist Sameer Malhotra, the suicide deaths reflect the mindsets of people who think that jumping from high-rise buildings is certain to lead to their deaths.

Malhotra said people were faced with more stress and prone to depression nowadays due to growing demands and expectations. They were not ready to accept failure. The growing number of nuclear families also means that the support system has gone down.

Sameer Parekh, a psychiatrist with Max Hospital here, feels that India, like other countries, should have a suicide prevention policy.

There has been a significant increase in the number of suicide cases in Delhi, according to police data. In 2005, 1,245 cases were reported and this went up to 1,492 in 2006. Most died by hanging.