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Suicides galore in Kashmir
By Javed Majtee, Srinagar

Suicides have claimed the second highest number of human lives in Kashmir following armed turmoil. Though there are estimates that more than 60 thousand lives have been lost in the state since the inception of militancy in 1988, the suicide toll for the same period runs in thousands.

The decade-long tension, bloodshed and fear have pushed thousands of people to take the extreme step of suicide in Kashmir. As per a survey conducted by some sociologists of the Valley, more than 2000 people, mostly women, committed suicide during the decade. Of these 1540 lost their lives, while the remaining were saved by timely intervention. According to a prominent sociologist, Bashir Ahmad Dabla, the percentage of victims saved has been just 23 percent because of poor state of medicare in Kashmir.

The year ending August has recorded 185 attempts of suicide, averaging 15.4 incidents of suicide every month. In other words one suicide has been recorded every alternate day in the troubled Kashmir. The survey has found mainly young girls and women opting for death at their own hands. Besides the total number unearthed by the surveyors there are many more not reported to police or press. The survey adds that such unreported incidents of suicide are equally high and could be placed at fifty percent of reported ones.

The survey has remarked that fear, stress, tension and uncertainty, prevailing in Kashmir, are the main reasons behind the rise in suicide incidents. ‘Death dance’ in the valley has been quoted as the main contributor to the growing suicide trend in the valley.

The survey conducted by experts also indicates that 77.4 percent of people attempting suicide were women. Of these 11 percent opted to end their lives during pregnancy. The ratio of suicide in rural and urban areas, as per the survey is 85 and 15 respectively. The proportion of illiterate and literate victims has been 40 and 60 respectively. A total of 76.92 percent people committing suicide were within the age group of 16 to 25 years. This, the survey attributes to the fear of death among youth as a result of continued disturbances. The remaining percentage is said to be of the age group of 26 to 40. Interestingly no person above 40 has committed suicide during the troubled decade. As per the survey 59.68 percent people resorting to suicides were unmarried. About 84 percent of people opting to end their lives chose consuming poison for the purpose thinking that this was the easiest way to hug death.

Another important feature of suicides in Kashmir has been the trend prevailing among Indian armed forces. Reports reveal that more than 400 Indian armed forces personnel have died of suicide in Kashmir since the inception of militancy in 1988. Interestingly, the reasons of suicide among the armed personnel are almost the same as in the case of civilians, i.e., fear of death, mental stress, tension etc.

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