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Monday, June 30, 2014

Write-up on Aasra in the BBC

Write-up on Aasra in the BBC

Write-up on Aasra in the BBC

4 December 2012Last updated at 14:50 GMT

Shantanu Negi’s Facebook suicide prompts shock in India

By Shalini Joshi Dehradun
 64542907 64542444 Write up on Aasra in the BBC Shantanu Negi’s friends initially believed his Facebook post to be a joke
An Indian student has killed himself after posting a Facebook suicide note.
“Bye everyone… I will miss you… I quit,” wrote Shantanu Negi, 16. Police think he was worried about an exam.
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.”

More on This Story

Related Stories

  • 7 March 2011Last updated at 16:58 GMT

    Facebook adds Samaritans suicide risk alert system

     51567014 009793180 1 Write up on Aasra in the BBC
    Rory Cellan-Jones shows how the system works
    Facebook 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.


  • India police investigate Bangalore ‘Facebook suicide’

     55530827 304272 144213685674025 144211935674200 214402 21190822 n 1 Write up on Aasra in the BBC Malini Murmu was reported to be upset by ‘derogatory’ Facebook comments
    Police 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?

     61189786 017f8cd7 85e7 447a a1dd ec0166725b19 Write up on Aasra in the BBC Suicide has become the second leading cause of death among young Indians
    In 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.
    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.

Article in The Star World(Toronto Star) with reference to AASRA

News / World

As stressed Indian students hit breaking point, new ad urges parents to chill

TV commercial sparks debate about one of India’s most pressing social issues: the off-the-chart stress India’s children face to excel in school.

NEW DELHI—The boy lies flat on his back on a judo mat, wincing under his heavier opponent’s weight.
His mother watches from the stands nearby and even though the crowd roars, her son — he’s maybe 10 years old with a shock of sweat-soaked black hair — can hear her voice in his mind.
“Are you wondering what people will say? No one will say anything. And it’s not necessary to win each time.’’
The mother and son are actors who appear in a new TV commercial for a malt drink mix that’s airing across India. The 30-second ad has touched off a discussion about one of this country’s most pressing social issues: the off-the-chart stress India’s children face to excel in school.
“It’s such an important message to send that children are not worthless if they don’t finish first,” says Johnson Thomas, who runs a youth helpline in Mumbai.
“Most people in this country now are in pursuit of a better life and their children are the way for them to get there.”
Far too often, Johnson and education experts say, India’s school-aged children shuffle into exam halls understanding that the fortunes of their families rest on their shoulders. They are acutely aware that the odds are against them.
India has 1.2 billion people, a figure that’s expected to surge by 30 per cent over the next 40 years, and 60 per cent of the current population here is under the age of 30. With roughly 30 million students graduating high school each year, space in a university or college program is precious.
In New Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University receives about 100,000 applications every year and accepts about 1,500.
Then there’s St. Stephen’s College, where just 450 of 12,000 applicants are accepted.

In India, competition for university spots is fierce and students are under so much stress that some schools have removed ceiling fans so students can't hang themselves. Shashwat Misra, 15, (foreground) and his brother Samarth, 18, study in their New Delhi home.

In India, competition for university spots is fierce and students are under so much stress that some schools have removed ceiling fans so students can't hang themselves. Shashwat Misra, 15, (foreground) and his brother Samarth, 18, study in their New Delhi home.

By:  Staff Reporter, Published on Tue Mar 22 2011

Rumour has it this year that nothing less than 98 per cent on the final high-school exam will be good enough for St. Stephen’s.
A recent survey showed India’s heralded middle class spends an estimated one-third of its income every month on tutors and other forms of private tuition.
Weekend newspapers are bursting with ads for tutoring centres such as the Cambridge School and the Harvard Centre.
For some students, the pressure becomes impossible.
When exam marks are disclosed each June, Indian newspapers publish a slew of student suicide stories.
In New Delhi last month, a 15-year-old named Aljin reportedly hanged himself from the ceiling fan in his bedroom because of school-related stress.
His death occurred at the same time the Indian magazine Outlook reported that several universities have replaced ceiling fans in classrooms with desk-top models to remove the temptation for depressed students.
A study in the South Indian city of Vellore that was published in The Lancet medical journal in 2004 showed suicides among young women (15 to 19) running at 148 per 100,000 population, against 58 per 100,000 for young men. In comparison, the world average among all age groups is 14.5 per 100,000.
Educators, community leaders and filmmakers are beginning to spotlight the issue.
The federal education ministry this year gave schools the option to eliminate a series of crucial Grade 10 exams, replacing them with a grading system that evaluates a student’s progress through the course of the year. The move is designed to reduce pressure on students.
At the Indian Institute in New Delhi, first-year students are now required to spend 10 hours with a psychologist, the school’s dean of students said in an interview.
On traffic bridges in the city of Jodpur, in Rajasthan state, messages in Hindi script urge students to call a helpline.
Social workers like Johnson are slowly making progress at establishing ties with schools and employers.
“By and large, most schools don’t want us around, they say their students are too busy with studying,” Johnson said, chuckling at the irony.
He started the Aasra Suicide Prevention Helpline in 1998 and in its first few years, averaged about 40 calls from distressed students each week. Now, he and his volunteers field about 175.
The pressure for students to excel here starts long before their senior year.
During Class 10, when students are 16, they take an exam that determines the specialized stream they’ll pursue during their final two years of high school. The science stream is most popular because it leads to university programs in engineering and medicine.
On a recent evening in a middle-class New Delhi neighbourhood, Rati Misra sat in the living room of her modest three-bedroom apartment and groused over India’s ultra-competitive education system.
Her two boys, Samarth, 18, and Shashwat, 15, are likely to pursue careers in business administration. While his mother said Samarth was destined to become a veterinarian, he scored a 60 per cent on his Class 10 exams two years ago.
That scotched any possibility of medical school.
“I understand that we all can’t be heroes, that someone has to be the one offstage clapping, but what they do as a young boy shouldn’t impact them so far down the road,” Misra said.
Before sitting down to their dinner table for a study session, Samarth and his brother Shashwat said they are coping with the pressure of school, even as those around them struggle.
Their 18-year-old cousin killed herself several years ago and only a few weeks earlier, a classmate who lived around the corner did the same.
“It’s not something that’s talked about a lot,” said Shashwat.
There’s no arguing academic pressures are hot topic.
Another ad that aired on Indian television recently showed a number of young Chinese students learning Hindi. The ad’s implicit message: Better do well in school because they’re coming for your jobs.
But the new Kraft Foods malt mix commercial is a positive step and it will be broadcast for a year, said Siddharth Patkar, a company spokesman.
“The portrayal of the mother-child relationship is seen as being very real and in line with the changing mindsets of today’s parents,” Patkar said, adding the message the commercial delivers is that “winning is important, but not at the cost of putting undue pressure on the child.”

Aasra in on the New mental health Bill 2013

Government's move to decriminalise suicide is half-hearted
The Mental Health Bill says that suicide cannot be prosecuted. But it remains a criminal offence under the Indian Penal Code and allows for people who attempt to take their lives to be incarcerated in institutions.

Amendments to the Mental Health Care Bill were approved by the cabinet on Thursday, in an attempt to protect the rights of people suffering from mental illness. But experts have criticised its provisions relating to suicide, even though the proposed legislation claims to decriminalise the action. Unless the Indian Penal Code is also changed, they say, people who attempt to take their own lives can still be prosecuted.

“At the end of the day, suicide will still be a crime,” said Amba Salelkar, a lawyer and disability and mental health rights activist. “If suicide were truly being decriminalised, legislators would have removed it from the IPC itself.”

The bill will be tabled in the Lok Sabha in the budget session in February. The original draft of the bill was filed in the Rajya Sabha in August 2013. A parliamentary committee on health and family welfare submitted their review of changes to the union cabinet.

At present, attempting to kill oneself is illegal under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, and can be punished by a year in prison. The Mental Health Care Bill says that notwithstanding the IPC, anyone attempting suicide “shall be have severe stress at the time of attempting suicide and shall not be liable to prosecution and punishment."

It goes on to state that it is the government’s responsibility to help ensure that those who have survived a suicide bid do not attempt it again. This clear puts all those who attempt suicide under the health care provisions of the bill, one clause of which includes the right of the government to incarcerate people of unsound mind for up to three months against their will.

By retaining IPC legislation and classifying suicide as a mental illness, the bill effectively gives the government the right to incarcerate anyone in a mental institution if suspected of having attempted suicide, experts say.

“If suicide were truly being decriminalised, legislators would have removed it from the IPC itself,” said Salelkar. “At the end of the day, suicide will still be a crime. This is what makes me uncomfortable about the bill.”

Dr Bhargavi Davar, another mental health activist, added that the decision to cite the cause of suicide as “severe stress” is dangerous because it allows a much larger range of people to be classified as mentally ill. “Mental illness is defined so broadly, any person is liable to be brought under the bill,” she said. “Who in urban areas is not stressed? Will they also be deemed mentally ill?”

She said that the earlier draft of the bill left open the option for people had attempted suicide but did not have any official diagnosis of mental illness to go to court to prevent themselves from being incarcerated in a mental institution. “How do you prove to the court that someone is not stressed?” she asked.

Both Davar and Salelkar believe that the solution would be to change the IPC, and not mention suicide in the Mental Health Care Bill at all.

Not a deterrent

Most psychiatrists agree that criminalising suicide is illogical. According to them, the law has never served as a deterrent to people wanting to take their own lives. The rate of suicides in India has steadily risen in the past five years.

“It is a good move to decriminalise suicide,” said Dr NN Raju, secretary of the Indian Psychiatric Society. “Suicide is a move taken to end suffering. They think it is the only option left to them. Society has an obligation to help them out, rather than labelling them as criminals.”

Dr Kedarnand Banerjee of the National Institute of Behavioural Sciences concurred. “Suicidal people are least bothered about legislation,” he said. “When the thought comes, it comes. Thinking about the law never stopped anyone from attempting suicide.”

While they welcomed the apparent decriminalisation of suicide, they too were not pleased with its being described as a mental illness.

Labelling suicide as a mental illness is inaccurate, according to Raju. “While severe stress doesn’t necessarily cause suicide, calling somebody mentally ill is not correct either,” he said. “Someone who tries to commit suicide may need the help of mental health professionals, certainly, but trying to commit suicide is not necessarily the result of inherent mental instability.”

According to National Crime Records Bureau figures, which are most likely under-representative, India’s rate of suicide, 11.2 per 100,000 in 2012, is far lower than the global rate of 16 per 100,000.

Within India, nuances emerge. More men kill themselves than women. According to an NCRB report, men kill themselves for economic reasons, while women kill themselves for personal reasons. Housewives formed 18.2 per cent of the total number of suicide attempts in 2012. This is more than over half of the women who were reported to have killed themselves in that year.

The top five specified occupations of those who committed suicide from 2001 to 2012 included housewives, farmers, those in private service, the unemployed and self-employed. These constitute 54 per cent of a total of 1.4 million people who killed themselves during this decade.

“It is necessary to understand that suicide is not an event,” said Johnson Thomas, who works with Mumbai-based suicide helpline Aasra. “It is not a one-time process. People go through different stages of stress and when it comes to a head, that is when they commit suicide.” Thomas, however, believes that the bill will be useful as it will force the government to take the responsibility of therapy after a failed suicide attempt, which is their stated intention.

Dangers of the bill

The social and political consequences of including suicide in the Mental Health Care Bill extend beyond just wrongful incarceration if the person survives, according to Salelkar. For instance, if a housewife were to survive a suicide attempt, they will be classified as mentally unstable and could have custody of their children taken away from them under the Juvenile Justice Act.

There are also cases in which pressure from in-laws for dowry is a pressing cause of women committing suicide. “When the case comes to trial, because she is deemed to be mentally ill, her evidence could become shaky,” said Salelkar. “Even if she doesn’t survive, the fact that suicide is filed under the Mental Health Care Act means that the family that might have abetted the suicide has some more room to wiggle out of being convicted.”

Political acts of protest are also likely to be prosecuted as before. Irom Sharmila has been on a hunger strike for ten years now. Each year, she is released from hospital custody for one day, then re-arrested under section 309 of the IPC. The government can choose to argue that Sharmila is not under severe stress. Since suicide has not been decriminalised, the government will not be obliged to release her from custody.

With this misguided attempt to help suicide survivors, experts say, the government has instead laid the ground open for them to be persecuted further.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Everyone gets stressed during the exams and results period but it's important not to let it get out of control.

(BBC Advice)
Everyone gets stressed during the exams and results period but it's important not to let it get out of control.

Exams... Ick

A little bit of stress can be a good thing as it motivates us to knuckle down and work hard. But exams can make stress levels get out of hand, which can stop us from performing our best. So it's important to address it and get it back under control.

Stress Symptoms

    Look out for prolonged or extreme cases of the following if you feel the work's piling up:
  • Difficulty getting to sleep or difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Constant tiredness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Poor appetite
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Increased anxiety and irritability
  • Increased heart rate
  • Migraines/headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
If you've noticed three or more of the above symptoms and you've experienced them for a few weeks you may need to do something about your stress levels.

How to manage exam stress

  • Learn to recognise when you're stressing out. A break or a chat with someone who knows the pressure you're under will get things into perspective.
  • Avoid comparing your abilities with your mates. Those "Oh my God I've only read Macbeth 17 times" conversations are such a wind up. Everyone approaches revision in different ways, so just make sure you've chosen the method that works best for you. Make a realistic timetable. Stick to it.
  • Eat right. Treat yourself like a well honed machine - eat fresh fruit and veg and have a proper breakfasts. Fuel your brain as well as your body - no one can think straight on coffee and chocolate.
  • Sleep well. Wind down before bed and don't revise under the duvet - your bed is a sanctuary, not a desk. Get your eight hours.
  • Exercise. Nothing de-stresses the mind faster than physical activity, so build it into your timetable. Being a sloth makes our mind sloppy too.
  • Quit the bad habits. Cigarettes and alcohol never stopped anyone being stressed for very long.
  • Panic is often triggered by hyperventilating (quick, shallow breaths). So if you feel yourself losing it during the exam, sit back for a moment and control your breathing. Deep breath in and out through the nose, counting to five each way.
  • Steer clear of any exam 'post-mortem'. It doesn't matter what your mate wrote for Question 3(b), it's too late to go back and change your answers, so it will just make you worry even more.
  • Ultimately, don't lose sight of the fact that there is life after exams. Things might