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Study conducted at LUMHS: Women more prone to self-immolation than men

HYDERABAD: There is always an underlying reason, either psychological or personal, for an individual to attempt suicide as the thought does not arise in a jiffy. It is always an incident that forces a person to take this extreme action, some in a violent fit of anger and others through a calculated move.

Moreover, women have stronger suicidal tendency than men, especially regarding self-immolation.

A research carried by Assistant Professor Dr S.M. Tahir of the Burns Ward at Liaquat University Hospital revealed that around 63 per cent victims of self-immolation admitted to the ward between out 2001 and 2008 were women.

It has been observed that the recent tendency of self-immolation was because of inflation, unemployment and social divide, while a decade or two back it was because of a failed love affair, marital issues or a psychological problem. Suspicion over loyalty between husband and wife and the nagging row with the mother-in-law are also a cause of this extreme step.

Victims reacting suddenly to an event are normally rescued by the people present ton the spot but those nurturing suicidal thoughts take the decision through a planned way ensuring that nobody saves them.

The study further indicated that 154 out of 1,572 patients admitted to Burns Ward had self-inflicted wounds as their act was an outcome of helplessness and frustration.

The agony of a suicide victim is maximized as their total body surface area (TBSA) is hugely affected. Furthermore, it was revealed that 22.10 per cent of the TBSA was burnt in hasty decisions and 50.58 per cent in intentional cases. The number of cases in last research year jumped to 22 from initially six cases. Extensive lesion in self-inflicted instances causes high mortality in such cases.

The 18 per cent increase during a seven-year period depicts an increasing trend perhaps because of the indifferent attitude of family members towards their plight, said Dr Tahir.

There is always a clear divide in the thoughts of victim`s families as some are sympathetic and in majority of cases they condemn the act and avoid following doctor`s advice during treatment. A victim loses the will to live and stops his fight to survive.
The family`s negation in providing medicines and injections, so much so, a high protein diet worsens the condition of their patient. Family members blame their patient of refusing to eat anything.

Patient of a rashly-driven decision has more chances of survival because of a natural tendency and family`s cooperation even if the TBSA is at the highest percentage thus reducing the mortality rate, also.

A senior psychiatrist Dr Darya Khan Leghari at Sir Cowasjee Institute of Psychiatry observed that tendency of self-immolation is higher among women than men.

“Men mostly hang or shoot themselves,” he said and ascribed suicide attempts by women because of depression. He said depression was the real issue these days but it was not being given a serious consideration as was being done for polio. A woman`s failure to control her emotion while suffering from depression results in suicide even over a minor conflict in the family, mostly involving husbands and in-laws.

The study indicated that even children try self-immolation. Dr Tahir pointed towards a case of a teenaged girl who pierced her right index in a power plug on the refusal of her mother to buy her a birthday gift. “This shows an alarming situation prevailing in our society arising out of social disparities”, he said.

Source: Dawn