Post abrogation of Article 35-A Kashmir has seen very rare mandays of work and economic activity. The macroeconomic scenario is on the verge of repeated collapse. And at micro levels there is paucity of disposable income. Increasedly families are facing liquidity crunch. For the majority of the sectors there isn’t an assured income. Besides the physical injury it has caused more a psychological injury at the familial levels is leading to increased familial discords and even to reported domestic violence.
Kashmir having a very weak private sector has also seen layoffs and job losses and shutting down of business and enterprises.
Our main business hub the historical Lal Chowk has already lost its relevance and sheen as an epicenter of commercial activities. The business men are struggling to keep pace with the new emerging business hubs in the peripheral areas and other suburbs comparatively.
Our transport sector has been the largest hit where we have seen transporters even dismantling their commercial busses and selling the trash in kilos to keep their hearth lit. Industries here mainly the micro and small scale units and the startups are already neck deep in debt and having lost the pace of repaying their bank loans and even their seed money gone in consumption.
Kashmir has been on a constant grind for past three years now with majority of the populace living hand to mouth. And a sizeable population even finding subsistence a challenge. Plus this the younger generation finds it more difficult to cope with life with educational institutions repeatedly shut and little or no scope for giving vent to their feelings.
People seem to be gasping as the second wave came unexpected and the lockdown lead to breakdown of sustenance.
In such a backdrop we need to see the increasing trend of suicides being reported here. The trend becoming popular with each passing day. And this tendency has been shown by the diverse age groups.
Jumping from a Srinagar bridge is suddenly attaining more glamour than anything else. With instant social media coverage the trend is catching up at an alarming pace. And seemingly the trend may pick up more if remedial measures aren’t taken hastily.
Well you can’t stop a person from ending his life of which he is in total control yet we can stop the glamorising part of it. Why less people are trying other means as compared to jumping the bridge in the middle of it. May be for sensation part because by consuming poison you won’t get the sensational social media attention. The person deciding to end his life may love to make it visible and going by the past few cases we have seen how suddenly the bridge jumping is increasingly picking up. And it remains a concern with the administration.
In European countries there is strict moratorium on coverage of suicide cases.You cannot divulge details beyond a point. The modus operandi part in particular.
Definitely it impacts the human mind and instinct. Little fearing for the end results a potential case probably gets the “kick” to do something unusual and to come into the instant limelight. Momentarily you forget about life. You forget that it is curtains for you. This is how ‘glamorising’ suicides can especially impact the impressionable minds.
You want to break the shackles somehow. You want to give vent.
As aptly put by a sociologist this reporter talked to; she said those who are really finding it hard in life do continue and never attempt suicide but face life courageously in every situation. While these are the fringe elements who turn copycats and fall prey and find some glamour in ending life. Upon finding even the minutest fault or deficiency in their lives they decide to end up killing themselves. This is were professional counselling is needed and instiution of family needs to be strengthened with more importantly joint family system she adds.
There has been an increased talk of immediate installing of barriers on the bridges over river Jhelum and laying of nets beneath. Also there is an important role for the river police boats to be stationed underneath for immediately pressing into service once someone jumps.
And even there are reports that certain bridges at least in Srinagar city may be guarded by security forces to stop the act.
But more importantly experts opine that the new convergent media is all the more aiding the process of adding glamour to the act. The quick upload of sensational videos of the suicidal acts catch the eyeballs instantly. You get to the bottom of the things and display and report everything nonstop on social media sites. Thereby in some corner you prompt more potential cases to follow suit. This is increasingly becoming the new normal here. Courtesy the social media influencers who provide unhindered and uncensored coverage.
It’s here that the administration has to step in immediately and take steps to instantly ban unregulated social media coverage of such suicidal events having enormous impact and future repercussions on the fragile social fabric.
Immediately rules should be framed and publicised about uploading videos or live facebook coverage depicting explicit stuff where you showcase the trending means of how to end life. Such social media handlers and accounts need to be taken care of and asked to desist from uploading any river jump cases. Hardly any poison consumption case is highlighted in such a manner ever as it isn’t possible and has little sensation involved.
Therefore a blanket ban on uploading live videos and their proliferation be enforced by the divisional administration here.
Teams of sectoral magistrates with requisite law implementing agencies be framed immediately to check the menace in their territorial jurisdictions with cyber police monitoring any such social media accounts which upload such events to the large audience unedited and unchecked.
More than putting barriers to valley bridges blocking amateur social media accounts will have more desired impact to check increasing trends of suicides and it’s sensationalisation.
Morse so with the declining covid-2 cases and subsiding second wave the government should consider of opening up of recreational public spaces and with time there should be very little restraining measures kept in place. The lives saved by lockdowns are ironically being lost to suicides. And the trend by all means is going to be infectious. If you continue to confine a family to home, there are necessarily the repurcussions. More so when increasedly families here are under economic distress for consistent three years in a row now.
You need to give a vent especially to the impressionable minds. It’s a hard reality that even small minds are now agitated at repeated home stay of three years at a stretch. Therefore the atmospherics needs to be changed and we need to open up the spaces especially by opening the schools and colleges. The government needs to take a call on the matter earlier the better.
Life cannot go online till eternity. You have to provide the breathing spaces. As man is gregarious by nature we cannot cage him for posterity.
Therefore we must take the cue from the fast emerging trend of “glamorus” suicides which are bound to replicate and repeat itself unless we return glamour back to public life.
Our gardens and resorts are empty spaces. Now is the time we allow recreational activities to resume.
Let life return to normal and of course with a rider of displaying covid appropriate behavior that we all know by now.
And let the glamour of life appeal us more rather than the glamour of death.
Let suicides not become the new normal.
For that we need to normalise life.
(The author a free Lancer, a gold medalist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)