Teen suicides rock the Uttar Pradesh capital
Lucknow has been reeling with several suicides committed by teenagers who shot themselves with firearms lying at home
On January 31, class XI student Kushagra Verma fatally shot himself in old Lucknow, using his uncle Alok Sinha’s rifle. Shy and introvert Kushagra had not being going to school for the past several days and had been withdrawn and worried.
This was the fifth incident in the city in recent months in which adolescents committed suicide using licensed weapons lying at home.
- On November 2, 2016, Alok Singh, an 18-year old, shot himself with his father’s licensed gun when his parents scolded him.
- A class XII student of Cathedral School Lalit Yadav shot himself on December 3 after allegedly being humiliated by the school principal.
- On December 10 Neha Tewari, a class XI student, shot herself with her father’s revolver
- On January 11, 2017 another 16 year old shot himself in Aliganj, Lucknow with his father’s double barrel gun
The shocked city has been left to wonder why firearms were so easily accessible to these children and what would have caused them to take this extreme step.
DGP Uttar Pradesh Jawed Ahmed says “this issue is not really related to policing or law and order; it is a social issue, as licensed guns were used in each case. People with guns should not leave them around along with ammunition. This is highly callous.”
Adolescent teens, he feels, are these days subjected to considerable pressure by parents to perform well in academics and in exams. Parents are too engrossed in their own lives and sometimes have little time to spare to guide children through this difficult phase.
“This issue is not really related to policing or law and order; it is a social issue, as licensed guns were used in each case. People with guns should not leave them around along with ammunition. This is highly callous.”Jawed Ahmed, DGP Uttar Pradesh
Shabari Dutta, a senior psychiatrist at Noor Manzil Psychiatric Centre in Lucknow differs. She feels too much attention, pampering and ‘molly-coddling’ of children have led to a lower tolerance level, increased frustration and heightened sensitivity to criticism and rejection, besides non-acceptance by the family, relatives and peer groups of any kind of failure. Because of this, she says, children suffer from unnatural guilt and shame. “Under such circumstances some of them may break down and take impulsive action,” she added.
According to Dutta, late adolescence is also the time when personality disorders emerge. Many children show signs of bipolar disease or schizophrenia, which parents often fail to detect. A child who has suddenly undergone a personality change should be referred for counselling to a professional psychiatrist, she suggested.
Fathers and other family members of course should lead by example. Strutting around with guns and flaunting firearms in the presence of children is irresponsible. Guns should be hidden in safe places and not displayed openly on walls as status symbols.
“If people are not careful about weapons, they certainly are a risk to society. It is interesting that despite the government regulations that all the licensed firearms should be deposited in the police station before elections, many firearm owners haven’t done so.”Sunny Sarna, ammunition store owner
Dutta also blames TV shows like Crime Patrol and Savdhan India for the surge of suicides and crime. These shows have brought crime into our drawing rooms, she argues.
Sunny Sarna, who owns an ammunition shop on Latouche Road, says that new weapons are not being bought after the state government banned fresh licenses for the last four years.
But Lucknow has over 85,000 licensed firearms. “If people are not careful about weapons, they certainly are a risk to society. It is interesting that despite the government regulations that all the licensed firearms should be deposited in the police station before elections, many firearm owners haven’t done so,” he says.