Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Walk out of marriage, don't end life...

Today, I woke up to a shocking news – Marital discord, journo ends life. Smitha Rao, who had worked as a journalist in Deccan Herald, The Times of India and Bangalore Mirror before moving to Infosys was no more. Colleagues had posted about the news on Facebook and Twitter, and it was just more than a shock.
Smitha Rao
Working as assistant manager at Infosys, Smitha Rao, 32, hanged herself to death at her flat in Mantri Splendour apartments at Geddelihalli, Bangalore, on Monday. Most of the news reports I read mentioned that she was being harassed by her husband Rohit Ananthakrishna, while a few tweets asked if the work pressure was behind her death. Smitha handled the online content for Infosys’ website.

Rohit is working as a software engineer with the popular search engine firm Google and he was arrested and interrogated by police officials.  The needle of suspicion pointed towards Rohit, following complaints to the police by Smitha's parents. The parents had alleged that Smitha was mentally and physically harassed by her husband since their marriage four years ago. They had no children.

Though reportedly, Rohit confessed during preliminary investigation that all was not well between the couple and they frequently quarrelled over many issues, her parents, who reside at Shankaranagar in Mahalakshimi Layout, accused him of ill-treating her and causing a lot of mental agony, which finally drove her to kill herself.

They fought over trivial issues and on Monday morning too, there was a fight between them before Rohit left for work. Around 9.30 am, she contacted him over the mobile phone and reportedly told him that it was her last call and he could never meet her again and had ended the call. Anxious over the conversation, Rohit left his office and rushed home.

By the time he reached, Smitha had hanged herself with a lungi from the ceiling at the house. Rohit called an ambulance and took her to Columbia Asia Hospital, where she was declared brought dead.

Unfortunately, she hasn’t left a death note and police have reportedly collected a laptop and two mobile phones from her flat for investigation.

And 2-3 days back, I was surprised reading a report on how the family of a Syrian actress disowned her for rebelling against the Syrian authorities. Fadwa Soliman, a Syrian actress brought up as an Alawite - the sect of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - shocked many Syrians when she stood on a high platform in front of hundreds of anti-government protesters in one of the most conservative Sunni districts and chanted against Assad's rule. Following this protest in the central city of Homs, her brother appeared on Syrian government-sponsored TV channel and said he and his family disown her. He said that her actions were probably motivated by money and expressed shock at watching her on Al Jazeera Arabic TV screaming anti-regime slogans in a protest.

I’m surprised on how can a family disown its member, that too at a time when the person is in crisis, when he/she badly needs physical and psychological support. A person who is rejected from the family can go to the extreme level of taking his/her life. It is unfortunate that families always exert pressure on the individual who dissents. The fear of rejection by family and society in turn makes a woman so lonely and dejected that she decides that she is no more required for the world.

Smitha is the only person -- who decided to end her life due to marital discord -- I have come across. I still remember how daughter of my dad’s friend also committed suicide, blame the same cause. She was the lone daughter and was given in marriage to a businessman. They had given lots of dowry during the wedding. But later, she discovered that he was a habitual drinker which upset her. When she was four months’ pregnant, she told her parents about the problems she’s facing with her husband. Instead of backing her, they advised her to adjust. Maybe the level of toleration had crossed and she ended her life at her husband’s house. Had they listened to her problems and brought her back to their house, maybe they would have not lost their daughter. But it was too late…

So I keep wondering why is it that parents want to fear for the society when such issues pop up? Why do they think that their responsibility ends once their daughter is married? Why do they become deaf and dumb to their daughter’s needs and problems?   

Sometimes, marriage at an early age, lack of freedom in choosing husband, pressure to have children -- especially baby boy -- early, economic dependence on husband, domestic violence and joint family system, can also make a woman to think about extreme steps. Under such conditions, young married woman’s position is severely compromised, making her very vulnerable to psychiatric morbidity and suicidal tendencies.

But surprisingly, according to the National Crime Record Bureau, around 70% of the Indians who ended their life in 2010 were married and 61,453 married men, 19,702 unmarried men, totaling to 65%, and 31,754 married women and 11,108 unmarried women, totaling to 35% committed suicide.

People who try to commit suicide are often trying to get away from a life situation that seems impossible to deal with. Many who make a suicide attempt are seeking relief from: feeling ashamed, guilty, or like a burden to others; feeling like a victim; and feelings of rejection, loss, or loneliness.

Suicidal behaviours may be caused by a situation or event that the person views as overwhelming, such as: ageing, death of a loved one, dependence on drugs or alcohol, emotional trauma, serious physical illness, unemployment or money problems, romantic breakup, domestic violence and others.

Most suicide attempts do not result in death. Many of these attempts are done in a way that makes rescue possible. These attempts are often a cry for help. Most attempt suicide in a way that is somewhat non-violent, such as poisoning or overdose.

Often, but not always, a person may show certain symptoms or behaviours before a suicide attempt, including having trouble concentrating or thinking clearly; giving away belongings; talking about going away or the need to "get my affairs in order"; suddenly changing behaviour, especially calmness after a period of anxiety; losing interest in activities that they used to enjoy; performing self-destructive behaviours, such as heavily drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs, or cutting their body; pulling away from friends or not wanting to go out; suddenly having trouble in school or work; talking about death or suicide, or even saying that they want to hurt themselves; talking about feeling hopeless or guilty; changing sleep or eating habits.

Often, people who are at risk for suicidal behaviour may not get treated for many reasons, as they believe nothing will help; they do not want to tell anyone they have problems; they think it is a sign of weakness to ask for help; they do not know where to go for help.

So the help stays with family members first and friends and relatives next. If they offer help to women who are facing problems with their marital life, many deaths could be averted. All they have to do is fill courage in them to face the life and society. After all, there are many women who are economically independent and bravely face the odds of society and there's nothing harm in rebelling against the system and living the life independently.

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