Write-up on Aasra in the BBC
Shantanu Negi’s Facebook suicide prompts shock in India
His friends initially believed it to be a joke, with many “liking” his last post and others commenting on it before they found out what happened.
Counsellors working with the social media site to improve reporting and support say many such cases in India are referred but few result in death.
Shantanu’s death occurred at home in the northern town of Dehradun on Monday evening.
Within hours, as the news of the suicide spread, his shocked friends started writing condolence messages.
“Shantanu killed himself because he was worried that he won’t do well in his mathematics examination,” police officer Dinesh Singh Bhandari told the BBC.
A student of class 11 in the prestigious Asian School, Shantanu was a good student who had scored 90% marks in his class 10 examinations.
“Recently, he seemed to have lost interest in studies. We had talked to him about it, but there was no pressure on him,” his father Pushkar Negi said.
From his Facebook profile, Shantanu appeared to be like any other happy and carefree teenager and his school said there had never been any complaints about him.
Helpline Last year, Facebook launched a system to allow users in India and elsewhere to report friends who they think may be contemplating suicide.
In India, the social networking site added the Mumbai-based Aasra suicide prevention helpline – part of the Befrienders Worldwide/Samaritans network – as part of its suicide risk alert system.
Johnson Thomas of Aasra told the BBC that in the past year they had intervened in more than 300 cases forwarded to them by Facebook.
Once a case has been flagged by worried friends, trained counsellors from the helpline email users offering to help them.
“We tell them we are worried and concerned about them. We cannot invade their privacy, but we request them to call us,” Mr Thomas said.
“Very often they do and we talk them out of it. Some just stop posting such messages because they realise they have friends who care for them.”
Mr Thomas says Shantanu “needed reassurance that not performing well in one exam is not a reason to kill himself. We all need people around us to support us.”
- 07 MARCH 2011, TECHNOLOGY
- 7 March 2011Last updated at 16:58 GMT
Facebook adds Samaritans suicide risk alert systemRory Cellan-Jones shows how the system worksFacebook is launching a system that allows users to report friends who they think may be contemplating suicide.The feature is being run in conjunction with Samaritans, which said several people had used it during a test phase.
Anyone worried about a friend can fill out a form, detailing their concerns, which is passed to the social networking site’s moderators.
It follows reports of several cases where Facebook users announced their intention to commit suicide online.
The reporting page asks for the address (URL) of the Facebook page where the messages are posted, the full name of the user and details of any networks they are members of.
Suicide-related alerts will be escalated to the highest level, for attention by Facebook’s user operations team.
Police alert “When a report is made, they then assess whether they need to call the police immediately or forward it on to us,” said Samaritans’ Nicola Peckett.
Facebook said that it had always been its policy to notify police if a user was at risk of imminent bodily harm.
The system had been operating in a trial mode, without publicity for three months, during which it received several genuine reports and no hoaxes, according to Samaritans.
It is hoped that the new reporting mechanism will help prevent cases like that of Simone Back, who died on Christmas day after taking a drug overdose.
The charity worker from Brighton had written about her intention to kill herself on her Facebook page.
Several of her friends commented on the message, however no-one raised the alarm.
Samaritans said that the new system was not launched in relation to one specific case, but to raise awareness of the ways in which people could get help.
- 22 SEPTEMBER 2011, SOUTH ASIA
India police investigate Bangalore ‘Facebook suicide’Malini Murmu was reported to be upset by ‘derogatory’ Facebook commentsPolice in India are looking for the former boyfriend of a student who allegedly committed suicide after he ended their relationship on Facebook.Malini Murmu is reported to have hanged herself on Sunday in Bangalore. Her father has demanded that her former boyfriend, Abhishek Dhan, be arrested.
Police say they are investigating whether the comments on Facebook amount to aiding and abetting suicide.
The whereabouts of Mr Dhan – also a student – are currently unknown.
Malini Murmu was a first year MBA student in the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Bangalore.
Ms Murmu’s family say that Mr Dhan’s Facebook account contained derogatory references to her – now deleted – which “forced her to take such a drastic step”.
In the comments on Sunday he wrote about being “relieved” and “feeling cool” after “dumping his girlfriend”. The pair had reportedly had a row earlier on.
Ms Murmu’s father told the BBC that her death had left the family devastated.
- 27 JUNE 2012, INDIA
- 27 June 2012Last updated at 07:23 GMT
Why are young Indians killing themselves?Suicide has become the second leading cause of death among young IndiansIn the end, wrote Albert Camus, one needs more courage to live than to kill oneself.If new research is to be believed, a disturbingly high number of young Indians are losing the courage.
A study published in the medical journal The Lancet shows that suicide has become the second leading cause of death among the country’s young adults, after road accidents in men, and childbirth-related complications in women.
There were 187,000 deaths from suicides in India in 2010, the study says – this is higher than the official figure of 134,599 suicide deaths from the National Crime Records Bureau. (Researchers attribute this gap to under-reporting or misreporting as friendly or bribe-seeking coroners often sign off suicide deaths as ones caused by accidents to protect the victim’s family from police harassment and social stigma.)
If the findings by a team of doctors are to be believed, 40% of the men and 56% of the women who took their lives in 2010 were aged between 15 and 29 years.
The suicide rate in Indian women aged 15 years or older is more than two and a half times greater than it is in women of the same age in high-income countries, and nearly as high in China. The corresponding rate in men in the same group is between one to two times greater in men of the same age in high-income countries.
I asked Dr Vikram Patel, a leading Goa-based psychiatrist and professor at the London School Of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-authored the study, about why he thought this was happening.
He believes that joblessness for men and post-marriage problems for women trigger off a lot of these suicides. “In women it manifests in depression, in men it becomes a drinking problem,” he says.
India is a society steeped in the patriarchal tradition, where most women are still expected to stay at home, and bring up children. But more and more women are stepping out to work and aspiring to be independent and successful. But pressures of family, demands for dowry and domestic harassment – and violence – push many such young, married women over the edge in the country’s teeming cities and towns.
“This is what I call the aspirational reality gap,” says Dr Patel. “Exposure to global media, education doesn’t match up to the realities at home. A touch of anomie worsens matters. Suicide is seen as a potential way out of it.” Perhaps not surprising in a society which lives with one foot in tradition, and the other in modernity.