Alcohol or curse – What caused the suicides in Samtenthang?

Younten Tshedup  | Gelephu

Cloud of confusion and apprehensiveness has gripped residents of Samtenthang village under Samtenling gewog, Sarpang. 

A series of suicide incidents (deaths) has been observed in the village since last year. 

The latest case involves a 21-year-old woman hanging herself to a wooden door rail on the night of February 10 in Samtenthang village. 

She is survived by her seven-year-old son and husband. 

According to sources, the woman who worked at the Agriculture Research Development Centre (ARDC) in Samtenling gewog left work place as usual. 

However, before going home, the deceased visited some of her relatives in the village. “She was going around telling people about the birthday celebration of her son that is a few days later,” said one of the neighbours. 

Local residents said that the deceased was under the influence of alcohol when she was going around in the village. She was holding eggs and maize.

It was also learnt that the deceased did not enter the house once she was at the premises around 11pm. Inside the house were her son, parents and two brothers. No one heard her arrive. 

One of the relatives said that the deceased had removed her uniform and slippers before hanging herself using a full-sleeve t-shirt from the wooden door rail just outside the house. 

Her husband, 24, was the first to see the body when he returned from a gathering around midnight. 

The relative said that the deceased had made suicide attempts in the past and had warned the husband on several occasions that she would take her life. “This usually happened when she was drunk. Otherwise, there was no major issue in the family, which could lead to such a tragedy,” he said. 

This is the second suicide incident in the village this year. There were three deaths last year. 

Residents said that except for an elderly woman and a high school student, majority of the incidents occurred when the individuals were under the influence of alcohol. 

While alcohol has been observed to be a common link between the deaths, residents also hinted to paranormal reasons for the series of deaths in the village.   

People in the village believe that those committed suicide were possessed by evil spirits to the extent that drove them crazy enough to take their own lives.

 “While there is no proof, the word going around these days is that the village is cursed,” said another resident. 

Samtenling gup, Kumar Mongar, said that it would be difficult to consider the paranormal rumours and connect it to the recent incidences. “The gewog administration is worried as well but we cannot acknowledge such rumours.”

The gup said that alcohol abuse could be a possible triggering factor, which is why awareness campaigns on alcohol and suicide prevention have been earmarked in the gewog’s planned activities in the 12th Plan. 

“Many people in the villages are unaware of the harmful use of alcohol today. We also intend to make them aware of suicide prevention and impart possible interventions that could possibly end this practice for good.”

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