Monday, October 27, 2014

Life is precious-Why do people give it up?

Life is considered a precious gift from God by most people in the world though there are a few atheists who think there is nothing like a God. However as long as man is not able to revive a completely dead person back to normal life or create artificial life one has to admit the existence of an omnipotent force with powers beyond what human beings, in spite of vast scientific and technological prowess at their disposal, possess. There are occasional reports that some scientists are on the threshold of creating artificial life though it cannot be still considered satisfactory to sideline God yet. Probably in years to come man may succeed but one has to wait for that day before casting serious doubt about the existence of God. This is a controversial issue and people on both sides of the divide will have to respect each others' feelings.

If life is a precious thing why do people commit suicide so often knowing pretty well that they can never return back to life? One of the most accepted views is that suicide happens when the extreme mental condition of the person does not allow him to think seriously the mind boggling consequences of committing such an act and in many cases those who fail in their effort to take their life in the first attempt invariably give up unless there is serious mental derangement. According to WHO experts on a global basis, one suicide takes place every 40 seconds working out to an annual suicide rate of 8 lakh per year. It is interesting to see that suicide rate varies from country to country though low income and middle income countries report higher suicide rates. Thus no one country is immune to suicidal tendency whether rich or poor, whether in Asia, America, Africa or Europe. Another notable phenomenon is that those who choose death voluntarily are mostly illiterates! 

India is a country where suicide rates are considered high though there are others with almost double the rate in other continents. If one believes in the babu version of government of India there were only 134, 600 deaths due to suicide in India in the year 2012 but WHO where such deaths are systematically documented the real figure was 258, 075 out of which 99, 977 were women and 158, 098 men. Obviously there must be some suppression of data in India or the documentation system is faulty. Overall there is 21.1 suicides for every 1 lakh population. It is not a consolation that a poor country like Guyana has a suicide rate as high as 44.2 per one lakh population or for that matter Sri Lanka recorded 28.8 deaths or Nepal had a figure of 24.9 suicides per one lakh. What is appalling is that in Indian suicide rate is high when it comes to the age group of 15-29 years aggregating to 35.5 per lakh while among 30 to 49 years group the rate falls to 28 per lakh

Suicide by farmers is always sensational and the media loves to report them promptly accusing the governments for such happenings in the country. However farmer suicides are less than 10% of the national figure though self inflicted deaths in rural belt is mostly due to serious financial indebtedness and insurmountable difficulties to meet both the ends meet on account of drought and crop failure. Pesticide poisoning, hanging and self immolation account for most deaths in countries like India while firearms are extensively used in countries like the US where they are easily available in the market. Interestingly in most wealthy countries poverty or hunger is not the primary reason for self-inflicted death but it is the acute mental disorders that drive them to this extreme step. Koreans are an interesting case where suicide rates are as high as 28.9 to 38.5 per lakh. Though on the development scale South Koreans are far ahead with high per capita income, the suicide figure tells a different story. There the figure is almost 29 per lakh while in North Korea it is 38.5 per lakh

What about our neighbor China? It is a confusing picture there as there are no independent reports that can substantiate the official claims by the government, The claim that it has dramatically reduced suicide rate from 22.3 per lakh a decade ago to 9.8 per lakh, a reduction of about 58% cannot be verified but even if if it is partially true the achievement is really noteworthy. One of the reasons attributed to this phenomenon is the rapid, conscious and massive urbanization programs initiated by the communist government and many social welfare supports available to the citizens. This is understandable because suicides take place mostly in rural and semi-urban areas for which no credible explanation is still available.    

In absolute numbers maximum suicides take place in India, about 2.6 lakh out of a global figure of 8 lakh (almost 33%) though country's population is less than 18% of world population. This may prompt critics to call India the suicide capital of the world. It is a poor reflection on the metal strength of the nation which boasts of 5000 years of glorious history, an ancient civilization and the epicenter of epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana,  In a land where Buddha and Mahavir Jain were born, peace within and around should have been a strong trait among their descendants. Also this is the land where Mahatma Gandhi, the Universal Apostle of nonviolence was born and attained martyrdom. If so why this depredation, deprivation, desperation and predisposition that drive people to destroy their own lives? Where has this country gone wrong in evolving such a destructive environment when people think of taking their own lives? Is there a spiritual bankruptcy or lack of self confidence or a sense of helplessness which is responsible for this situation? There is an urgent need for introspection among Indians vis-a-vis the factors that drive some of their fellow citizens towards self destruction so as to bring about radical self corrective measures.

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