x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

27 Indians commit suicide in four months

Officials says Indians often shy away from seeking help because of social stigma.

DUBAI // A total of 27 Indian people committed suicide in Dubai and the Northern Emirates in the first four months of this year, the Indian Consulate announced last night, a day after an Indian man jumped to his death from the Jumeirah Lake Towers.

"Until April 30, 335 deaths were registered, of which 27 were classified as suicide by police authorities," Sanjay Verma, the Indian consul general, said.

His comments follow two high-profile suicides in the emirate. A 45-year-old executive jumped from the 30th floor of a building in Jumeirah Lakes Towers on Sunday. Last week, Athiraman Kannan, 32, an Indian foreman, jumped from the 148th floor of the Burj Khalifa.

Mr Verma said that last year 110 deaths were classified as suicides from Dubai and the Northern Emirates by authorities. In 2009, 113 suicides had been recorded with the consulate, and in 2008, 147 people took their lives.

Psychological, financial and personal counselling is offered at the Indian Workers Resource Centre, which was opened in Dubai by the Indian president, Pratibha Patil, last November. The centre was launched particularly to service blue-collared and semi-skilled workers, who comprise a large chunk of the 1.75 million Indian expatriates in the Emirates. The majority of suicides involved these categories of workers, according to Mr Verma. Authorities have been attempting to raise the profile of the centre among them.

"More could be done," conceded Mr Verma, adding that it was hard to introduce the concept of counselling among Indians, who generally shy away from seeking help because of fear of social stigma. The official added that apart from the centre's efforts to reach out to workers, it was a "job shared by all".

"A company is the first port of call. They are interacting with workers. It is the primary responsibility of companies," he said.

pkannan@thenational.ae