Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala had won applause for being one of the early best-performers in battling the COVID-19 pandemic, but since June, cases have been on the upswing with the daily count crossing 800 this week.
Along with the wrong turn that the pandemic has taken, so have suicides in the state, with each day bringing new reports of suicides, many of them reportedly committed under mental stress caused by the pandemic.
What is even more alarming is that the state has witnessed as many as 66 cases of suicides by children during the lockdown period.
In the latest incidents, a young man under observation for the disease ended his life in Thiruvananthapuram, and another man who was remanded in custody and put up in medical care under observation, took his life in Kasaragod in the north of the state. Both ended their lives on Sunday.
Taha, 36, who took his life in Thiruvananthapuram, had returned from the Gulf and had displayed mental stress. He was put up in quarantine at the Barton Hill College, where he jumped to his death from the fourth floor. Taha leaves behind his wife and a daughter.
In Kasaragod, M. Shaiju, 40 was found hanging in the rest room of a COVID-19 quarantine centre, where he was put up after a local court remanded him in custody in a case pertaining to sexual harassment of a minor.
Police are also investigating the case of a woman aged 62, and her mother aged 86 being found dead in their home near Nedumkandam in Idukki district on Sunday.
What is more shocking is the government statistic that at least 66 children (below 18 years) in the state committed suicide between March 25 when the lockdown was imposed and the first week of July. In other words, 66 child suicides in just over 100 days.
State chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that with schools closed, students may be facing multiple issues including “anxiety and mental stress”.
Concerned by the shocking statistic, the state government has formed a committee headed by senior police officer R. Sreelekha to look into the matter.
In early June, Devika Balachandran, 14, a class 9 student in Valanchery, took her life because her family did not have a smartphone or television at home on which she could attend online classes. A note found from the school girl’s house had a single line written on it, “I’m going”.
Many of those who have returned from abroad are also reportedly undergoing severe mental stress. The chief minister said an estimated 52 per cent of those who returned from abroad were feared to have lost their jobs.