Post Covid, Kolkata saw 31.5% drop in suicides last year | Kolkata News – Times of India

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KOLKATA: The city recorded a 31.5% drop in suicides last year, compared to Covid-hit 2021, according to figures released recently by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), released recently. The data serves as a pointer to just how much impact the pandemic had on citizens’ mental health, said experts.
The report, called ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2022’, says there were 283 suicides reported from Kolkata in 2022.The previous year – the year of the devastating second wave of the pandemic – there had been 413. Before that, deaths by suicide in the city were far fewer: 278 in 2020, and 181 each in 2019 and 2018.
Most mental health experts attributed the suicide spurt of 2021 to multiple reasons, each rooted in the pandemic: a prolonged period of isolation during the lockdown, departure from normal life and activity and discontinuation of treatment for mentally patients.
“For several months in 2020, everyone was faced with an unprecedented situation, which was extraordinary and depressing for most,” said psychiatrist Jayranjan Ram. “Those who were prone to depression and other mentally ill patients bore the brunt of the pandemic. First, they were stuck at home. Also, there were few who could care for them, since everyone was struggling to cope. All kinds of treatment came to a sudden halt, and the worst affected were the mentally ill. I know of many who had to go without medicines for weeks and months, which worsened their condition.”
Ram said many mentally unwell people lost their support systems, both at home and outside. There were others, who failed to cope with the physical distancing, which became a norm to prevent transmission, he added.
‘Many found themselves cut off from others during Cov’
The elderly and the young were the most vulnerable during the pandemic, said psychologist Soumya Mukherjee.
“Both groups need support and people around them. They are emotionally and physically vulnerable because of their age. Many found themselves cut off during the first lockdown, especially senior citizens. Old and infirm couples often had to be fed by neighbours, which made them feel insecure. Some of them turned suicide-prone since, there seemed to be no end to the crisis,” said Mukherjee. She added that many youngsters were driven to suicide since they had no one to rally around them or lend them emotional support.
In Kolkata, according to the NCRB report, 140 people with mental illnesses chose suicide in 2021. In 2022, there were 48, over similar reasons. Again, 14 people ended their lives in 2021 because of failed relationships, whereas 11 did so in 2022 over relationship problems. Marital discord led to 33 suicides in 2021, while there were none reported in 2022 over similar reasons.
Psychiatrists and psychologists, along with sociologists, however, warned against attributing specific causes to suicide deaths. “It is often an amalgamation of issues and the specific state of mind of the victim. Nevertheless, the data throws up certain indicators, which could be used to combat suicides,” reminded a medical officer.
The NCRB data also demonstrates that a little less than a third of all suicides in Bengal could be attributed to either family or relationship troubles. Throughout the state, 12,669 suicides were reported in 2022, with 35 suicides a day. In 2021, there were 13,500 suicides, at an average of 37 a day. A total of 4,196 suicides were attributed to either family or relationship problems.
The data throws up another interesting figure. As many as 10,351 people who earned less than Rs 1 lakh a year committed suicide in 2021 in Bengal. In 2022, this figure went down to 8,814. This income demographic perhaps was the worst affected by the pandemic, experts felt.

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