A 30-year-old old man killed himself by consuming poison soon after sharing a suicide note on Facebook in Shahjahanpur city, Bareilly on Tuesday. Chandan Singh Verma who was a social worker, wrote in his suicide note that his wife was harassing him by demanding Rs 20 lakh for giving divorce. Chandan got married in 2014.
Chandan’s suicide note
When Chandan’s friends and relatives saw the suicide note on his Facebook post, they straight away started calling him. But he didn’t answer any of their calls. A few even headed towards his house and knocked, but it was locked from inside. They informed the police and Chandan was found lying unconscious on his bed. He was immediately rushed to a district hospital and thereafter referred to higher centre in Bareilly. But unfortunately he died on his way. SHO Kotwali police station Pravesh Singh said, “We have sent the body for autopsy. We are waiting for the family to lodge a complaint. The suicide note is an evidence and we will include it in our investigation.”
Record upsurge in Facebook live-stream suicides
On February 2, Gurtej Singh Dhillon, a 35-year-old Punjab farmer live-streamed his suicide attempt on Facebook.
On January 10, 27-year-old Paramjit Singh, live-streamed his suicide on Facebook, claiming to have been repeatedly harassed by his in-laws. Singh hanged himself.
Who is to blame – Facebook or users?
A graphic video of a man dying by suicide on Facebook Live has spread. From there to TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and now YouTube, where his image ran alongside ads and attracted thousands more views. This incident stunned everyone and fueled demands of keeping a check on livestream videos.
The limited capability of Facebook’s AI is a big reason for its failure to keep such inappropriate content in check. Besides, despite all the digital tools at its disposal, Facebook relies heavily on its users to physically flag content. It is only after a user notifies Facebook, that its resources are deployed.
In a “community standards enforcement report” issued Friday, Facebook admitted that its army of human reviewers had been partly disabled due to the pandemic.
Mental health awareness
There has been an increase in self-harm and suicide ideation among people since the pandemic. This is according to a study ‘Covid-19 Blues’ conducted by Bengaluru-based Suicide Prevention India Foundation. “Everyone’s mental health is getting impacted during lockdown. We wanted to specifically focus on whether self-harm and suicide ideation had increased and whether people who were no longer in therapy were experiencing relapses.” said Nelson Vinod Moses, founder, SPIF.
We’ve just crossed the Mental health Awareness week and it is by far understandable that it can become both the means and the way of ending this apathy. Progressive government policies based on evidence-based approaches, an engaged media, a vibrant educational system, a responsive industry, aggressive utilization of newer technologies and creative crowd-sourcing might together help dispel the blight of mental illnesses.