Hyderabad: Increasing marital discord, work pressure, insecure jobs and a high-end lifestyle are contributing to a peculiar situation. Smart young men and women, in the prime of youth, are falling into depression and committing suicide.
Most of the suicides are being committed by techies. Secondly, all of them are married. Suicide notes are talking of the inability to cope with the stress of personal and professional lives. The final spin-off of these suicides is that parents of the girl are registering complaints of harassment by husband and in-laws only after the suicide or attempt to suicide has happened. In most cases families never complain of harassment before the suicide or attempt to suicide.
Says a marriage counselor, “This is unusual. Couples who seem to be happily married for years, suddenly have so many problems that one of them decides to commit suicide? This means that issues have been there in the marriage all along. Most techies have long hours at work. Chances are that husband and wife work in different shifts and barely get time to spend with each other. When differences occur, before they can resolve it, it's time for one or the other to leave for work. So it all builds up to a point when one of them just can't deal with it anymore.”
Depression is mainly an urban problem and there are now several professional options available in cities from where one can seek help. But though the stigma attached to a mental ailment is wearing off, the earlier generation still rushes to astrologers or advise children to let time heal all problems. Unfortunately neither happens.
Case 1: Ramya, 36, and her husband were working in US as software professionals. They were married for several years. Due to the job crunch in the US, Ramya returned to India. A couple of years later, her husband Rajashekar also returned. But within a few months, Ramya attempted suicide. She survived but after her suicide attempt, her family accused Rajashekar of dowry harassment and slammed a case.
Case 2: Rohini, a techie with an MNC was married for six years. She committed suicide and her family says that there was dowry harassment from day one.
Case 3: Sharada (name changed), another techie, committed suicide within a week of marriage. Her parents had forcibly married off to someone else, while she was in love with another. Now friends say she was depressed before marriage.
Depression is treatable. So why is the hip techie community so reticent about seeking professional help? There are incidents where they do not even seek help from the police. While the police say that there are so many factors that prevent them from speaking out, they also believe that in certain cases, the allegations made against husband and in-laws are proved false.
In the case of Ramya, she could not get a job due to the long break after her last job and Rajashekar could not get a job that matched his background. As a result both became jobless and soon differences arose between them. Suddenly one day, Ramya attempted suicide, but survived. After Ramya's suicidebid, her family started blaming Rajashekar of physical abuse and dowry harassment
Senior cops say in some cases, there is harassment from the husband, but the parents do not approach the police or counsellors. “Often the victims do not come out. Main thing is lack of support from the family, family image and fear of ruining the marriage. Instead they approach elders to settle the issue”, a senior police official said. “In half the cases, parents of the woman level allegations against the husband and in-laws, which are proved false. There are times when husbands and their families are made scapegoats”, said another senior police official.
Note: All names in the report have been changed.
Many women fail to seek help
In less than a month, three women techies committed suicides in the city. Experts say that in addition to work stress, women hold back from speaking against dowry harassment because of social taboo. She also fears that if she is depressed and seeks treatment, she will be branded as mentally unsound.
IT companies are now providing marital counseling as well as training in dealing with marital issues. But compared to technical trainings, there are few takers for family sessions.
Mr Sandeep Makthala from Telangana Information Technology Association said that it is not only domestic abuse that techies are facing, but also difficulty at work places. “If both husband and wife are employed in IT sector, there are chances of differences leading to such incidents. They should make use of the trainings organised by their employers not only to boost their career options, but also for their family and personal well-being”, he said.
Senior psychiatrist Dr Preeti Swaroop said, “People in IT think they are smart enough to work out their issues and do not need help. Therefore companies should take initiative and arrange seminars and stress relieving therapies and conduct camps to help the employees.”
There are also various kinds of professional help being offered. A few clinics are offering services on phone where a person can seek guidance on the phone. “Once they approach a counsellor, a crisis intervention happens, after which the pressing issue to take a final step like suicide gets postponed. The patient and counselor can work together and arrive at a solution,” added Dr Swaroop.
But it is also a fact that increasing suicides have shaken the IT community. In a postgraduate CME conducted in Hyderabad recently, around 200 postgraduates participated. Perhaps it is a sign of changing times....