Younten Tshedup

In a disturbing trend, the national referral hospital’s forensic department recorded at least one suicide case every four days this month.

There were seven suicide cases including an attempted suicide in the last 26 days in Thimphu.

On September 24, mushroom collectors found a 39-year-old man hanging from a tree in the forest of Ngabiphu. He had fled after hitting his wife with a knife. Police had been on the lookout for him.

Just the day before, a 25-year-old university graduate was found dead at her relatives’ house in Babesa, Thimphu. Following an argument with her elder sister in the morning, the woman had locked herself inside her room. She was known to be hot-tempered and used to frequently lock herself up after arguments.

When her sister went to check on her later that day, she was found hanging inside the room. She was unemployed.

Similarly, a 24-year-old man was also found dead inside his room on September 19. The body was discovered when the deceased’s brother and mother returned from an evening walk.

According to health officials, his relatives said that he was suffering from depression. However, no medical records were found during the time of the investigation.

It was learnt that the deceased who was helping his brother with a private business had recently shared about suicidal thoughts with his family members.

On September 18, a 43-year-old corporate employee was found dead with a suicide note. It mentioned about his paternity issues. He had an extramarital affair with a colleague who became pregnant.

Officials said that the note read that he committed suicide because of the guilt and embarrassment he had to endure.

A person reported missing was found dead in the early hours on September 17. The 27-year-old labourer left a suicide note in an empty room adjacent to the house where the deceased and his friends lived.

After finding out about his wife’s extramarital affair, his suicide note expressed his feelings for her. The deceased had visited the emergency unit at the national referral hospital the previous day with mild symptoms. However, with no major issues, he was allowed to go home the same night.

A 35-year-old woman was found hanging from a tree some 100m from her house in Chubachu on August 30. It was learned that the deceased was not in good relation with her husband. She had made suicide threats in the past. She worked as a sweeper.

On September 16, a 28-year-old woman had attempted her fourth suicide by trying to hang herself in the bathroom. The recently divorced woman had issues especially with the custody of her child who was with her husband after the divorce.

Health officials said that there was no foul play observed in any of the cases. However, the sudden spike in the number of suicide cases has left them worried.

Forensic specialist with the national referral hospital, Dr Norbu said that although the sudden spike happened following the lockdown, it could not be directly related to the impacts of the lockdown.

There were also varying circumstantial evidence among the six cases such as family issues and extramarital affairs, among others.

Dr Norbu said that trend was concerning. “We have never had such a spike in the past. These six cases otherwise would be in reported in six months.”

He said that since 2016, the health ministry started a national suicide registry which recorded on an average of about 12 suicide cases a year at the national referral hospital between 2016 and 2019.

The department has recorded 12 suicide case so far this year. There were 9, 12, 16, 15, 13 suicide cases in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 respectively.

Meanwhile, the department is studying the profile and characteristics of the deceased to find out possible causes and reasons for causing suicidal tendencies among people.

As per the World Health Organisation, Dr Norbu said that for every suicide there are at least 20 suicidal attempts.

Meanwhile, a newborn was found abandoned in a plastic bag near Babesa area yesterday. The baby was rescued and taken to the JDWNRH. Police are investigating the case.