Poverty

Last month, a 22-year old woman from Wahi Pandhi near Dadu attempted suicide by consuming poison. According to a Sindhi newspaper, Afroz, wife of Abdullah Rustumani, tried to take her life die to extreme poverty.

As per the report, Rustumani, a labourer, could not afford two meals a day for his family and the unfortunate mother could not withstand her children crying amid starvation and thus decided to end her misery. She is still admitted in the district hospital as per the latest news reports.

Another woman, Dilshad Khatoon, 35, was troubled by the stress of poverty during the coronavirus-related lockdown and tried to commit suicide in April by taking a poisonous substance in Naundero. Her husband was a daily wage labourer who got unemployed due to the pandemic, and she tried to commit suicide as she could not see her four children dying of hunger. Dilshad was immediately rushed to the local hospital for treatment.

Suicide statistics in Sindh have set alarm bells ringing in the province, as over 1,300 people have reportedly taken their own lives in the last five years.

According to a Geo News report, Umerkot, Tharparkar and Mirpurkhas districts of Sindh saw the highest number of suicides in the last five years. As many as 646 incidents were reported only in these three districts, while the highest number of victims comprised youth and women. In 2019, 160 people lost their lives in these three districts.

The biggest causes of suicide include poverty, unemployment, ignorance, economic conditions, lack of basic facilities of life, debt and interest, forced marriages, violence, and drug abuse.

Experts say emergency steps are needed to stop this dangerous trend. In the first place, the government should take steps to end poverty, and also play an effective role in the treatment of those suffering from depression.

While the myriad issues related to people committing suicide have been there for long, the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the living conditions of the poorest of the poor, affecting not only their health but also their livelihoods. According to a report in The News, three workers in Khairpur committed suicide due to joblessness in April this year when the government had imposed a strict lockdown closing all but essential services.

A middle-aged man committed suicide in Karachi’s fishermen village of Ibrahim Hyderi earlier this year, allegedly due to not being able to provide for his family, including his four children. According to the police, the deceased, said to be around 40 years of age, worked as a junk dealer and ran a donkey cart. He sprinkled kerosene oil over his body and set himself on fire. He was quoted saying that he had decided to end his life due to joblessness and poverty.

Muhammad Ali Shah, chairman of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum which works for the betterment of the area’s indigenous residents, told Sabaat that a major reason behind suicides is rising poverty. He said that some districts in Sindh were rich in resources, like Badin, but the fruits of those resources could not reach the people and they were living a miserable life. He called for the equal distribution of resources so the most marginalised sections of society can be lifted upward.

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