x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Suicide help line for Indians receiving more calls

A growing number of Indian expatriates are calling a suicide help line because of financial problems, a community group says.

DUBAI // A growing number of white-collar Indian professionals with financial, legal and psychological problems are turning to a suicide help line for support, according to a community group.

Just days after the bodies of a family of three were discovered hanged in a Ras Al Khaimah home, Indian community organisations report that growing financial pressures are forcing some Indian professionals to think about taking their own lives.

The Indian Workers Resources Centre (IWRC), an Indian Embassy-run service that provides free counselling services to expatriates, said more people are contacting their suicide hotline.

"In the last 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 Dubai-based centre. "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 due to confidentiality. However, he did say 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 discovered by police at their RAK home.

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."

He continued, "We have had awareness campaigns run 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 O.Y Ahamed Khan, the president of the Indian Association of Ajman, a community welfare organisation that is 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 fact that many Indians take out cheap bank loans, which 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," he said. "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, transport and that's not even factoring in rent."




The IWRC hotline can be reached at 800 46342.