Techie suicides

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Have you guys looked at newspapers recently, I am sure you would have. If you have, you would have noticed the number of suicides that are happening in India seem to be on a raise. People ending life everywhere, people who are educated, established, who have not even experienced the basic feelings of the human form of life, people who have accomplished a lot and or on way to even better stuff. Its really confusing and damaging trend.

We see people, especially techies committing suicides very often, and in most of the cases it gets assumed that the cause is the stress. I refuse to believe this, I do not think stress alone can be cause of so many suicides, so whats it that our colleagues are ending life for?, is it stress, depression or sense of being useless. If it is depression, whats causing it?, is it their busy life?, lack of time for outside work? got me really thinking.

As I began to think, I counted the number of times I have visited a doctor in last one year, may be 8 times, out of these, all 8 times was for a seasonal cough or a cold, may be once for a bad stomach after eating some stuff out on the streets [;) that I would never mind]. Anyways the point is all of them were due to my body ailments, did I ever think about meeting a counselor? nope. Not even close to thinking of meeting one such. All of us know that 90% of our problems seeds from our brain, so why is that we don’t get ourselves checked for that?, I am not saying all of us have gone mad, we need to meet a psychiatrist or something like that.

See thats the problem, we all believe [including me] meeting a counselor is for people who have something wrong in their mind, either they have mental illness, or mentally retarded or even worse unfit for society. It might be a little exaggeration but deep down we do frown upon people who do meet councilors. How wrong we all are.

Recently read an article in an otherwise useless daily called Times of India, about how software firms and BPOs in Bangalore have started providing their employees counseling, they have started giving anonymous service where people can send problems and get advice, also meet them casually and see if they can see signs of issues, and advice accordingly. I feel this is a great step, this will make that less of a taboo, and more acceptable.

So coming back to the reason for depression and suicides, I think the main problem is the lack of balance.

Huge change in financial state, is the first thing that strikes me, people coming up poor backgrounds suddenly given so much of money don’t know what to do, most of them end up spending too lavishly with no thoughts for future, when they end up in a fix, they end up ending their lives.

Improper work/personal life balance, I have been totally guilty of this one, I mean we absolutely don’t give ourselves any time for personal stuff, like enjoying a hobby, making friends and other pursuing other relationships, enjoying a hot cup of coffee with our family. Small things these, but act like a total morale booster you know. Somewhere with no vent for the mind, the depression creeps in. I have complained of bad mood for no reason so many times.

Bad influence from the environment, where the bosses don’t respect people’s personal life, when lot of things are expected, sentiments are ignored, and in turn frustrating the employee more.

Peer pressure, I have always been a believer that strong will is a must, and once you have that peer pressure or any other pressure would not work on you, I would like to believe that no one can make me do something unless I want to, but then having seen people, may be a little weak minded, being easily bullied, or lured into things which are beyond their capability, be it drugs, sex or alcohol, or any other thing. The guilt and the regret they are left with, does cause a lot of issues.

All in all a very bad trend this, something seriously to be thought about.

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4 responses »

  1. You are absolutely right in assuming that people don’t commit suicide “just because”. Depression, especially severe untreated depression is usually the cause of suicides. The recent increase is most likely due to the combination of untreated depression and the increasingly stressful environment that most of us are living…with technology the way it is, imstead of life becoming less stressful (as is it’s purpose), it’s becoming more so…especially for the guys (and girls) who work in that field…which is a lot of Indians.

    Several years ago I was talking to an Indian that I met on the ‘net, we got on the subject of counseling and he told me that in the Indian culture…going for that kind of treatment is taboo for the majority of people, therefore, most Indians are either unable to have access to counseling services or just refuse to because of that label that they will then receive. It’s very sad. Granted, I come from a culture where it’s almost in vogue to be in some kind of treatment for psychological problems…and psychology is my field of interest and study…so I admit that I can be a little biased…but I found it upsetting then, and upsetting today by that.

    Its sad to say, but hopefully this increase in suicides will lead to the breakdown of that taboo when people begin to realize that psychological problems aren’t something to be ashamed of.

  2. Interesting post. For those of us without access to Indian broadsheets, perhaps some links would have been useful. Thanks.

    There are two other possibilities, in addition to the ones you identify and the one Silverneurotic talks about:

    1. Breakdown of social networks and families with its incipient problems such as lack of close relationships and support systems:

    Recent research has shown that talking to a friend or a member of one’s family, who listens with empathy, would confer on many the same benefits as may be had from talk therapy with a counsellor.

    With people moving away to urban areas for jobs, they move away from their social networks. Urban living can be apparently exciting but quite isolating, especially for one who does have friends or loose ties with people.

    Problems therefore simmer rather than get addressed.

    2. Supply constraints:

    I have in the recent past had cause to find a therapist in a metro, for someone in India.

    Through my family and my adoptive families (through deep, long associations), I have access to several medical experts in mental health. Seeking recommendations from two or more such experts brought me the same 3 or 4 names in a metro city.

    I know from the same experience that in B- and C- towns in India, except in medical colleges, even a psychiatrist can hardly be found when poverty and deprivation are known equally to contribute to stress, depression, dependencies and addictions. A therapist in these towns, if one exists at all, is unlikely to be very good and effective.

    I have often argued in my writing that change in attitudes is often catalysed by a change in awareness. That is the greater public health challenge than getting supplies of healthcare providers lined up.

    Thanks.

  3. @Silver.
    I agree with you a little bit, its a little of stress, I think there is a strange reason for depressions, something like a lack of a challenge or struggle or something like that.
    your friend was absolutely right, it is kind of looked down upon, when someone visits a shrink.
    We have reached a stage where we should think about this very seriously.

    @Shefali,
    Firstly, I thought “Virtual ramblings” lost you, kind of been a long time since I saw you around.

    I think you are absolutely true with first point, I mean in olden days hardly one person worked per family, so when he got back home, he had a life to return to, now with all of us working, when I get back, all are so exhausted that we have absolutely no life outside work.

    Okey agreed in B C towns we hardly find anything in smaller towns, but A grade metro cities, highly educated people but still this is a taboo

    btw amazing to see you write such a big comment.. shows me how much you care for things.

  4. Rambler: Thanks.

    I am in the last 3 weeks before my PhD thesis is due, so my extra-curricular work – feeding my own 2 blogs, reading and commenting on the few blogs I read, and staying fit while spending long hours hunched on my laptop – is limited.

    However I believe if things are worth doing, they are worth doing well.

    Yes, the stigma is enormous. I wrote a post about mental health issues in the workplace on the Indian Economy blog and it was a great success. You may want to read it, if you have time:
    http://indianeconomy.org/2007/07/06/
    mental-health-in-the-workplace-food-for-thought/

    Thanks.

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