Poverty driving people to suicide - study
[TamilNet, Friday, 17 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
More than five hundred people who attempted to commit suicide were admitted to the Batticaloa hospital between January and September this year. Of these forty four died upon admission.
This was revealed in a study carried out in the Batticaloa district by Mr. K. Alagendran, a fourth year student at the medical faculty of the Jaffna University.
The study says that poverty is the main cause of this high numbers of suicide attempts in the district.
It also points out that the figure may be much higher given the number of cases which are not brought to the Batticaloa hospital.
The Sri Lankan army controls Batticaloa town and its general hospital and people living in the vast hinterland beyond the lagoon which is controlled by the Liberation Tigers have little access to the hospital.
Pesticides of the Organo-phosphate type have been mainly used in the suicides. Another popular means was the Nerium Oleander seed which produces a potent poison when crushed.
Seventy percent of the persons who attempted or succeeded in committing suicide were below the age of 30. The study cites the case of several teenage widows in the district who have committed suicide due to poverty.
The study, however, does not refer to instances of suicide by families in the war ravaged Paduvankarai region of Batticaloa.
The most well known case is that of a poverty stricken family of five which committed suicide in Kokkaddicholai following dire threats by the notorious "Mohan Group" to pay up.
The Mohan Group comprising ex Tamil militants was very active alongside the Sri Lankan army in the Batticaloa district between 1990 and 1995. Its members are still said to be active.