Make jumping off Bridge tough, Nepal govt told as suicides rise at alarming rate
Over the past month, as many as five people jumped into Narayani River from Narayani Bridge, which links Narayanghat of Nepal’s Chitwan district with Gaindakot of Nawalpur. One of them was safely rescued while four others went missing.
The grim chain of incidents started on August 23, when a 26-year-old woman jumped off the bridge in broad daylight. Within 24 hours of the incident, a 49-year-old man also jumped into the river. The third incident occurred four days later, on August 28, when an adult male parked his scooter on the bridge and jumped into the river.
According to police data, a man in his late twenties and another in his early 30s jumped off the same bridge on September 6 and September 15, respectively.
The incidents of people jumping to their death from the 500-metre-long bridge along the East-West Highway has set off alarm bells in the local community.
“Five deaths by suicide at the same spot in a month is worrisome,” said police deputy superintendent Bijayaraj Pandit, adding that 25 deaths by suicide were reported in the district since the beginning of the current fiscal year on July 17. The number of suicides was 214 in the last fiscal year, Pandit said.
Citing that climbing over the railings on either side of the bridge is an easy task since they are only about waist high, Pandit added that authorities concerned should install taller railings to dissuade people from taking their own lives.
“The bridge over the Seti River in Pokhara is secured in that it has high railings,” Pandit said. “The one over the Narayani River also needs that kind of infrastructure.”
Death by suicide and suicide attempts off the Narayani bridge are nothing new. “Three years ago, five people, two in a single day, died when they jumped into the river,” Pandit said. “But the frequency of the recent cases has raised questions about security along the bridge. We will dispatch security personnel to the Narayani bridge and its vicinity to keep an eye on the people.”
In 2019, Bharatpur Municipality Youth Network submitted a memorandum to the mayor of Bharatpur Renu Dahal and the mayor of Gaindakot Municipality Chhatrraj Paudel asking them to take steps to secure the bridge. The network asked both the local units to take immediate measures to make high railings along the bridge. But their requests are yet to be addressed.
This time, local youths have urged the local unit and authorities concerned to adopt measures to dissuade people from killing themselves.
Security and rescue work falls under the ambit of the police. However, Pandit says a lack of resources affects their preventive and rescue efforts.
In the past month, police were able to rescue only one person who had jumped into the river. “The security personnel who are mobilised for rescue during natural disasters are also tasked with rescuing those who jump into the river,” Pandit said. “We have some tools and equipment to conduct rescue, but we don’t have the resources to run rescue operations in a big water body like the Narayani River.”
The recurring incidents of suicide have also worried psychologists and psychiatrists who say that those with suicidal tendencies find it easier to execute their plans when an easy, viable way becomes available to them. “For instance, those fighting conflicting thoughts and deliberating suicide will be encouraged to go ahead with their plans when they see it’s easy to jump off a bridge,” Dr CP Sedhai, a psychiatrist based in the district, told the Post.
Sedhai recommended that police should heighten security in the area and construct high railings on the bridge. “But that’s just the beginning,” Sedhai said. “The authorities must launch awareness campaigns to sensitise people in matters of mental and emotional health.”
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year across the globe and 16 million people try to kill themselves.
The UN health body says one in four people in the world are affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives and around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill health and disability worldwide.
“Suicide and suicide attempts have a ripple effect that impacts families, friends, colleagues, communities and societies,” the global health body states. “Suicides are preventable and much can be done to prevent it at the individual, community and national levels.”
Asia News Network