Aasra Suicide Prevention.This blog is about getting people to talk about their innermost feelings and emotions in times of distress and despair.All discussions are about the issue of suicide, mental health and it's effect on society.
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The apparent suicide of 25-year-old Bollywood actor Jiah Khan
last week was greeted with shock in India, a country where suicide is
the second-most common cause of death among people aged 15 to 29,
according to a study in The Lancet.
Of the 114,800 males who took their own lives in India in 2010, 40%
were aged 15 to 29, while 56% of the 72,100 women were in that age
bracket, the study said. The report’s lead author, Vikram Patel, a
psychiatrist and joint director of the Centre for Global Mental Health,
says female suicides in India are often linked to relationships,
including domestic violence and forced marriage. For men, the major
reasons were related to work and financial difficulties, he told India
“It reflects the general role of men and women in India,” Mr. Patel said.
In India, people carry out suicide mainly by self-poisoning with
pesticide and hanging, which are more lethal than methods typically used
in the West like overdosing on non-prescribed drugs, Mr. Patel said.
Public health interventions such as restricting access to pesticides
might help prevent many suicide deaths in India, Mr. Patel wrote in The
Lancet report, which said there were about 187,000 suicides in India in
2010, the second highest in the world after China. The fact that these
two nations have the most suicides is in itself unsurprising given their
India’s suicide rate is about 16 per 100,000 people a year, the study
said. The rate in the U.S. in 2010 was 12.4 per 100,000 people,
according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while in the U.K. in 2011 it was 11.8 per 100,000, the Office for National Statistics said. Countries with higher rates include South Korea, Greenland and Eastern European nations like Lithuania, reports show.
Through rapid urbanization, India has witnessed a change in family
structure, with people moving out of joint families into nuclear
families. Although the effect of this change has not been studied in
detail, some experts believe this has impacted India’s suicide rate. “Families now are fractured and the support systems in place earlier
are not working,” said Johnson Thomas from Aasra, a Mumbai-based
organization that runs a 24-hour suicide prevention helpline. The confidential helpline, which has been operating for 15 years,
gets 35 calls a day, Mr. Thomas said. That adds up to about 12,775 a
year. The majority of calls are from men, who struggle more than women
to express their feelings, Mr. Thomas added. “Indian society doesn’t allow men to be emotional… they don’t really have anyone to confide in,” he said.
In a study
published in 2011, an international team of health researchers said
India had the worst rate of severe depression of 18 countries surveyed,
with 36% of respondents showing at least five symptoms, such as loss of
appetite and a sense of worthlessness, for a period of two weeks or
That study also showed that women were twice as likely as men to suffer from depression.
There is a lack of specialist mental health experts and psychiatric
clinics in rural India, where more suicides occur. According to The
Lancet report, suicide rates in rural India are about twice as high as
in urban areas. The problem is exacerbated by the easy availability of
pesticides and a lack of emergency care, the report noted.
Clinics addressing mental health issues like depression have opened
in cities in recent years. But there is a stigma in getting psychiatric
treatment, doctors and experts say.
“People continue to have a closed mindset related to mental illness,”
said Sanjay Chugh, a New Delhi-based psychiatrist who runs his own
“Mental illness is still understood as a form of disease which will
be ‘fixed’ by faith healers, a divine intervention or through rituals or
prayers,” he added.
Also, suicide is a crime in India.
In a 2011 ruling, India’s Supreme Court asked Parliament to consider
quashing the law, but no action has been taken. Under the law, a suicide
survivor can be sentenced with a one year prison term or a fine, or
In a 2007 report in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, Lakshmi
Vijaykumar, who runs a suicide prevention network called Sneha in the
southern Indian city of Chennai, said that making suicide illegal has
“Emergency care to those who have attempted suicide is denied as many
hospitals and practitioners hesitate to provide the needed treatment
fearful of legal hassles,” she wrote in the report.
“The actual data on attempted suicides becomes difficult to ascertain
as many attempts are described to be accidental to avoid entanglement
with police and courts,” she added.
Last year, the government drafted a bill to decriminalize the act of
attempting suicide but it hasn’t yet been introduced for discussion in
“More than legalization of the act, what is needed is spreading
knowledge and making people more mindful and sensitive toward mental
health as a field, as it would automatically open doors for devising
means and methods to combat it,” Mr. Chugh said.
Worldwide, up to one million people die by suicide every year,
according to the World Health Organization. In the last 45 years,
suicide rates have increased by 60%, says the WHO, and suicide is among the three leading causes of death among people aged 15 to 44.
A post-mortem report said the cause of Ms. Khan’s death was asphyxia due to hanging. It ruled out foul play.
Atish Patel is a London-born multimedia journalist based in Delhi. You can follow him on Twitter @atishpatel. Follow India Real Time on Twitter @IndiaRealTime.
If Jiah Khan’s suicide has taught us anything, it is the
uncertainty of life. But shorn of the philosophical touch, it’s a tale
gone horribly wrong for a young aspirant in the Maximum City.
While Jiah’s suicide by hanging at her flat in Juhu, an upscale
suburban, has got the media spotlight for obvious reasons – the showbiz
connection – what cannot be overlooked is the fact that Mumbai, for
young outsiders itching to make a career, can be good and evil, inviting
and foreboding, warm and cold, enticing and frightening. And all at the
same time. Also read: Jiah death brings to fore life, strife of young India
For the sake of attention, if nothing else, we might talk about
Bollywood, but minus a few details here and there it could well be
relevant to any struggling, striving, talented youth in Mumbai – more so
those coming from outside.
Exactly 20 years and 2 months after the mysterious death of actress
Divya Bharti – she died after falling from fifth floor of a building,
allegedly jumping off in an inebriated state on April 5, 1993 – Jiah’s
suicide has brought to focus the issue of depression, disillusionment
and loneliness in the showbiz industry of a city that is said to never
At first glance, the two deaths are as different as chalk is from
cheese. Divya Bharti, then 19, was a more successful actor, married to
producer Sajid Nadiawala, had plum projects on hand and was said to be
on way to a glorious Bollywood career when she died.
In contrast, Jiah Khan, 25, started off with a bang as a teen (she acted opposite Amitabh Bachchan in Nishabd in
2007, and even bagged the Filmfare best debutant nomination), and then
headed nowhere (supporting roles opposite Aamir Khan in Ghajini and
Akshay Kumar in Housefull, in 2010; and nothing thereafter).
Jiah was also reportedly undergoing problems in her relationship with
her boyfriend: actor Aditya Pancholi’s son Suraj.
And if those weren’t enough, Jiah’s mother Rabiya Amin, a small-time
Bollywood actor in early ’80s, has said that Jiah had auditioned for a
film in Hyderabad on Sunday and was unhappy about it.
All this leads to one conclusion: she was under stress, immense
stress. Those who knew Jiah say she was also despondent and
disillusioned about her career and personal life. All three are
adjective boxes that Divya Bharti might have checked had she been asked
to state her state of mind towards her last days — if the industry
grapevine is to believed, she was being pressured to ‘compromise’ with
underworld elements. Why is Bollywood/Mumbai so tough to crack?
Charmed by stories of success by rank outsiders – Shah Rukh Khan and
Akshay Kumar in films and in every other arena of professional life –
and the opening of more doors in television, fashion, beauty pageant,
and reality show circuits, tens of hundreds land in the city of dreams.
In showbiz, an abysmal 1 to 3 percent make it.
While there is no success formula, ‘casting couch’ is said to come as
a package deal in getting a break in Bollywood – insiders call it an
“accepted fact”, though most established actors choose to deny it.
The film industry’s larger-than-life image dwarfs the perils and
vices, and the ‘villains’ who come in many shades and hues –in the garb
of misleading casting agents, secretaries, producers, directors and
hangers on. In a hugely cut-throat competitive industry, there are no
And then there’s money, a key to struggle for both showbiz aspirants
and others in professional life: house rents are high, clothes and
accessories are expensive, and you need a good car to flaunt your
status. Barring the handful who make it, it is a struggle for the rest
to maintain this façade.
Industry insiders say ingenious ways are invented to keep the wheel
moving: those with a thick skin, a strong mind and nerves of steel can
withstand the multiple pressures, while the vulnerable and the gullible
get sucked deeper in the muck and grime and often get into alcohol,
substance abuse and give in to sexual exploitation.
Not that all these cases lead to suicide, but many do – and it’s a
fact writ large enough for us to wake up and smell the coffee. According
to a report in aasrasuicideprevention.blogspot.in,
a site on preventing suicides and addressing depression, a study on
suicide mortality in India published by The Lancet last year pointed out
that suicides were the second leading cause of death among 15- to
29-year-olds. The National Crime Records Bureau reported 1,35,585
suicides in 2011.
In many sense, Bollywood is no different from any other high-pressure
profession in Mumbai today, and suicides are not that uncommon a social
phenomenon. Poignant but true, Mumbai is no place for the fainthearted.
Like that Johny Walker song put it so aptly, “Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan, zara hatt ke zara bachke, yeh hai Bambai meri jaan.”
With suicide cases on the rise in the country, psychology experts speculate on what could have driven Jiah Khan to end her life
June 05, 2013
the news about Jiah Khan started doing the rounds, what’s everyone
thinking about is what could have driven the young actress to end her
life so abruptly. And what’s more alarming is that with every passing
year, there seems to be more and more suicide cases being reported in
the country. Photos: Jiah Khan - Snapshots from the past
In a medical study published in 2012, the estimated number of
suicides in India in 2010 was about 1,87,000. A large proportion of
adult suicide deaths were found to occur between the ages of 15 years
and 29 years. Incidentally, of the five lakh people reported to die of
suicide worldwide every year, 20 per cent are Indians.
in an industry where one-upmanship is rife, there is always pressure to
perform. The entertainment industry has always been demanding but to
what extent? We spoke to psychology experts to get their views on what
could have prompted the 25-year-old to take such a drastic step. Missing Plan B? Seema Hingorrany,
clinical psychologist and author, points out the lack of planning in
case of professional disasters. “In a metropolitan city like Mumbai,
depression often goes undetected. There’s a deep sense of loneliness
that even the immediate family or friends can’t see.
Especially, in the case of an actress like Jiah who has seen some
instances of success only to face a downward slide in her acting career.
So what she didn’t have was a Plan B. Unfortunately, she was left with a
Plan A that simply didn’t work.” Photos: Who was Jiah Khan Turns out the toughest part in showbiz is not to bag stardom but to sustain it. Johnson Thomas
of Aasra, a helpline against suicide, says several factors could have
contributed to the actress’ drastic decision. “The young actress in
question did seek stardom and even received some with her debut film.
Later, she was seen in minor roles. Sadly, the film industry seems great
provided you’ve got work and it turns cruel as soon as you run out of
Clinical psychologist Varkha Chulani
emphasises on the overwhelming possibility of depression. “From a
clinical point of view, we don’t know yet whether it was an impulsive
suicide or a depressive suicide.
The former is a phase where a person decides that life is not
worth living and the latter is a case of elongated hopelessness. In
Jiah’s case, we’ve read about her break-up and struggling career but
then she also reportedly went to audition for a Telugu film. Someone
with a severe case of depression won’t even be able to think of work.” Life’s like that Lata Shenava,
counsellor and educator, takes a different route while explaining the
more deep-rooted problem related to parenting. “There’s something
structurally wrong with the way kids are raised nowadays. For the most
part, they are put in a comfort-oriented environment and expected to
grow strong, which is impossible. As a result, we see youngsters not
being able to face challenges.”
Jiah Khan 'suicide' case: Police question an actor's son
Shawan Sen CNN-IBN | 10 Jun 2013 02:52 pm
Mumbai: The police are questioning the son of an actor and other people in the Jiah Khan death case, according to sources. The 25-year-old Bollywoood actress was found dead in her Juhu flat in Mumbai late on Monday night. Her post-mortem is being conducted at the JJ Hospital. "Prima facie, last call was of an actor's son. So, definitely we will question him," ACP Vishwas Nagre Patil said.
The police suspect it's a case of suicide and claim there are some marks on her neck. However, no suicide note has been found so far. Jiah was found dead around 10.45 pm by her mother.
"I don't know what happened, but when the ambulance and the police came here, that's when we found out," the security guard of Jiah Khan's house said.
"We will go to the root of this. Those who have had conversations with her have been called to the police station. We will tell you the details once we complete the investigation," the ACP said.
Jiah's mother and sister had gone out and she was alone at the house when the incident happened, the police said. "Jiah's mother and sister found her hanging when they returned at around 11 PM," police said, adding that Jiah used her own dupatta to hang herself.
Twenty five-year-old Jiah shot to fame after her debut opposite Amitabh Bachchan in Ram Gopal Verma's 'Nishabd' in 2007. Jiah appeared in two more Bollywood movies including 'Ghajini' and 'Housefull 2'. A shocked Bollywood film fraternity expressed their grief on the death of the young actress on Twitter. Amitabh Bachchan tweeted, "WHAT ...!!! Jiah Khan ??? What has happened ? Is this correct? unbelievable !!!" (sic)
Suicide Prevention Helplines:
Roberta McLauglin photographs an exhibit of shoes last May, in remembrance of people who have jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Suicide -Annual Total Surpasses Car-Crash Deaths; Rate Among Middle-Aged Is Cited
The number of deaths caused by suicide has risen precipitously in the last decade, surpassing those caused by car crashes and even some of the most fatal diseases, according to a government report released Thursday. The number of suicides in a year rose 31% to 38,364 in 2010 from 29,181 in 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For adults aged 35 to 64, the group most responsible for the increase, suicide is now the fourth most common cause of death behind cancer, heart disease and unintentional injury such as drowning. That is up from the eighth spot in 1999. Suicide rates for youth and elderly remained steady. But suicide rates for working adults were double that of the other demographics, with people in their 50s showing the highest numbers. That is troubling to public health officials, since most of the resources targeted at preventing suicide have traditionally been earmarked for students and senior citizens.
Downturns in the economy have been correlated with rises in suicides, according to CDC research. As people lose their jobs or work part-time, many struggle to make ends meet and go without health insurance, adding to stress and turmoil in households. States reduce mental-health services to balance budgets. This last decade has been particularly punishing, as the worst recession in decades wiped out stock-market wealth, home equity, college savings and retirement funds for many workers—in addition to the heavy job layoffs. For suicides among the middle-aged, men outnumber women by a 4-to-1 ratio, said Richard McKeon, head of the suicide-prevention division of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That underscores a greater reluctance among men, particularly those of working age, to seek therapy, as well as the challenges the health-care system has in reaching them. Sally Spencer-Thomas said her brother, Carson J. Spencer, was a "man's man." In his mid-30s, Carson was tall, athletic and CEO of an insurance company. But her brother, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager, struggled to accept that his bouts with a mental disease were normal—and common, Ms. Thomas said. On Dec. 7, 2004, Carson took his own life after struggling with mania and months of erratic spending and behavior. He spent all the money he had in his bank account, Ms. Thomas said. "My brother struggled with what it meant to be a man living with his disease," said Ms. Thomas, who founded a group dedicated to preventing suicides among working men in 2005. "That is a huge reason why men of working age are dying." For decades, suicide-prevention resources were directed at students and the elderly. In about a dozen states, school staff members are required to undergo annual training for suicide prevention, looking for potential signs of at-risk teenagers. The approach with seniors centered on diagnosing and treating depression. As resources went to youth and seniors, however, the recent recession challenged middle-aged adults. "The safety net for working adults has a lot of big holes in it," said David Litts, executive secretary of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, a public-private partnership seeking to reduce suicide deaths. As a result, the suicide growth among middle-age adults has gone largely undetected. "It's been a creeping erosion that's been difficult to see," said Eric D. Caine, director of the Injury Control Research Center for Suicide Prevention, a CDC-funded team, and a leading expert on suicide deaths. In the Obama administration's proposed budget next year, an extra $2 million is available to target demographics—like working-age adults—who aren't being helped, said Mr. McKeon. In 2010, suicides for all ages totaled 38,364, the CDC said. That compares with 33,687 motor vehicle deaths in the same year. Corrections & Amplifications
The Carson J Spencer Foundation was established in 2005. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the foundation was established in 2006. The earlier version also incorrectly referred to Carson J. Spencer on second reference as "Mr. Carson." Write to Timothy W. Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org