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Thursday, August 1, 2013

suicide at Spencer Mall.... Media should desist from highlighting negative things...

It is believed to have originated as a cart track – but is the most important arterial road of Chennai – winding from Island Grounds to Kathipara – not a straight stretch though…… it is the Mount Road, now Anna Salai….. it has many landmarks – right from The Hindu Office, the proposed Secretariat Complex, P.Orr & Sons, Devi Cine Complex, 14 storeyed LIC Building, Spencers Plaza, TVS, Saffire theatre complex [now non existent], Gemini Bridge, AG’ Office, Sun TV, Nandanam Arts College, SPIC and more…….

An 8-storey shopping-cum-office complex of approximately 1.068 million sq ft, consisting of nearly 600,000 sq ft of air-conditioned shopping units and 400,000 sq ft of office units ~ was the cynosure of all eyes in the past few decades.  It has shopping arcade located on the ground, first and second floors in all the three phases and the office units are spread between the fourth and the seventh floors. The car parks are spread over the basement, ground, second and third floors, in addition to double basement parking lots in the third phase of the building. Easy to guess – the Spencer Plaza

Spencer Plaza was built in 1863–1864, established by Charles Durant and J. W. Spencer. Spencer & Co opened the first Departmental store in the Indian subcontinent in 1895 and the store had over 80 individual departments. The building was designed by W. N. Pogson. In 1983, the original building was destroyed in a fire; the present shopping arcade opened in 1991 and was one of the most sought after hangout for the people of Chennai. The mall was developed by Mangal Tirth Estate Limited. 

It is in news for wrong reasons ~ everyday we get to hear of many deaths and bad incidents – and slowly people do not even care to read them or sympathise with such occurrences ~ there was another death, a suicide which was prominently reported in many newspapers as ‘person leaping to death from a famous mall’.  Not even a month since a 23 year old plunged to death from the 3rd floor of EA Mall in Royapettah..... the public suicide stunned people ~ reportedly he had messaged some of his decision and had deleted messages and contacts from his mobile before leap-frogging to death.  Sad and ghastly as so many were frightened by something happening in their middle.

Life could difficult and full of impediments but still you have a choice.  Every minute, every breath provides everyone with a choice to be or not to be.  Suicide is never a solution.  Contrary to popular belief the incidence of suicide is not high in poor – poverty or debt does not drive all to death… there are many among the rich too who resort to suicide. Many people die by suicide because depression is triggered by several negative life experiences. There could be innumerable reasons that one could cite, still there would be strong reason for them to continue to live the life in its normal course.

If it was a software engineer at Express Avenue, it was reportedly a person mentally disturbed  who leaped off the third floor in Spencer Plaza this week.  As reported in the Press, P KishoreKumar, a native of Veppampattu village in Tiruvallur district, took shoppers by surprise by suddenly sprinting towards the railing and jumping into the atrium in Phase 3 of the mall at 12.30 pm.  Though the injuries were initially reported as not life threatening, he eventually died in the evening reportedly due to severe internal bleeding.  According to some reports, the man had earlier gone to a Police station seeking refuge but the circumstances explained were found to be not true and that Police officials even gave him some money.

Some would blame that the place is not properly kept; security is not enough; railings are too low and more……. but in a country with crores of population, it is impossible to monitor every situation and prevent such incidents……. Today’s TOI article is worth reading for its newer  perspective  and here is something extracted from it :

Copycat suicides are back to haunt the city. A day after a man jumped to his death from the third floor of Spencer Plaza, a waiter ended his life on Tuesday in a similar fashion. A few years ago, cases of people jumping off buildings were rare, but it appears to be the trend now, say psychologists. Such suicides happen when people who are depressed read or hear about incidents of successful attempts and imitate them. “We are worried this may continue,” said Dr Lakshmi Vijaykumar, founder of Sneha, a non-governmental organization which works to prevent suicides. Less than a month since D Shanmugham, a techie, jumped off the third floor of Express Avenue mall, two similar incidents have occurred. P Kishore Kumar, who killed himself on Tuesday, also leapt off the third floor but in a different mall. Several such suicides have been reported since singer Nithyashree Mahadevan’s husband jumped off the Kotturpuram bridge in January.

“Graphic representation of suicides, pictures of spots and the method adopted are often the trigger,” said Dr Lakshmi. “It’s important to talk about it, but rather than suicide details media reports could mention how to reach for help.” Eight years ago, jumping off buildings was common in Hong Kong but after an incident of charcoal burning suicide, many started following it. “This method started coming down in Hong Kong recently,” she said.    According to police, only 40% of those who attempt suicide this way are successful. Few realise a failed attempt could leave them paralysed. “People who decided to jump off buildings throw themselves in front of trains have stronger suicidal tendencies than others,” said counsellor Magdalene Jeyarathnam-Miller of the Centre for Counselling. “Any depressed person could be provoked by such reports.” Repeated close shots of the props used to commit suicide can also act as a spark. Psychologists feel providing protection in ‘hotspots’, by deploying police, can help prevent copycat suicides. “Malls could consider raising glass railing levels,” said Magdalene.

According to the National Crimes Record Bureau statistics, Chennai tops the list of suicides among cities with 2,183 cases. Bangalore is next (1,989), followed by Delhi (1,397) and Mumbai (1,296). Tamil Nadu continues to be the country’s suicide capital with 16,927 people killing themselves in 2012, or an average of 48 suicides a day. Chennai-based Sneha receives up to 30 calls a day seeking help.  There was yet another incident ~  a 35-year-old hotel employee jumped to death from the terrace of a four-storey apartment complex in Chetpet on Tueday. Police said Raji, from Kerala, was staying in a rented house on Spur Tank Road. He had returned from Kerala on Monday after attending his brother’s funeral. The hotel authorities allegedly reprimanded him for going on too many holidays, police said. Later, he purchased liquor and went to his friend’s apartment and jumped from the terrace. Police said that he was an alcoholic.

Suicide is never the solution … never allow depression or wrong thoughts to dictate you… think positively and ensure that we do something that will be helpful to the Society in a small measure at least.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

31st July 2013.

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