x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Suicide concern over Indian professionals

A growing number of Indian professionals with financial, legal and psychological problems are turning to a suicide helpline for support.

DUBAI // A growing number of Indian professionals with financial, legal and psychological problems are turning to a suicide helpline for support.

Days after a family of three were found dead in their home in Ras Al Khaimah, the Indian Workers Resources Centre, a service run by the Indian Embassy that provides free counselling to expatriates, said more people were seeking help.

"In the past four months we have seen a significant increase in the number of white-collar professionals with a range of worries, concerns and problems," said Hashim Muhammed, a supervisor at the centre in Dubai.

"It is mainly people worried about their financial situation, and we do our best to work with them and talk to them to see how we can help."

Mr Muhammed said he could not reveal the exact number of people who had contacted the centre, because of confidentiality issues.

However, he said the centre had not been contacted by Anil Kumar, 44, or his wife Sreeja, 31, whose bodies – along with that of their daughter, Anusree, 8 – were found by police on Friday.

The IWRC runs a variety of services to help those who are experiencing difficulties. “We go into labour camps to give talks about how people can resolve their problems,” said Mr Muhammed. “But we are open to any Indian from any background, and we would urge them to contact us if they have any concerns.

“We really want to avoid tragedies like the one in Ras Al Khaimah happening in the future, and the best way for that to happen is for people to talk to one of our counsellors.

“We have had awareness campaigns in Indian newspapers as well as radio stations, but the message still needs to get out.”

The financial burden on many expatriate Indians has been growing, said OY Ahamed Khan, president of the Indian Association of Ajman, another community welfare organisation linked to the Indian Embassy.

“I cannot comment individually on the sad case in Ras Al Khaimah, but in general there are some common threads that lead people to consider taking their own lives,” he said.

Mr Khan blamed a lack of awareness among some Indians on the true cost of living in the UAE, and that many Indians take out cheap bank loans that they cannot repay.

“Many people are not living within their means,” he said. “They get employment here, maybe for Dh3,000 to Dh4,000 a month if they are lucky.

“Then they bring over their wife and children from India, but don’t take into account the extra financial burden that will be placed on them through school fees, food and transport, and that’s not even factoring in rent.”

nhanif@thenational.ae