Monday afternoon saw another addition to a tragic chain of events.
A working journalist undergoing treatment in Delhi for COVID-19, 37-year-old Tarun Sisodiya jumped off the fourth floor of the Trauma Centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and committed suicide.
Was the hospital guilty of negligence, or was the patient having ‘bouts of disorientation’ as has been claimed?
While the controversy following the journalist’s death is unlikely to end soon, what is alarming is that the number of COVID-19 patients committing suicide is increasing by the day.
It is impossible to understand what goes on in a person’s mind before he or she decides to commit suicide.
You only live once, they say.
Make the most of it while you do, therefore.
The suggestion sounds absurd when a person springs a surprise by ending his life.
Considering how precious life is, why should anybody invite death?
What we do know is that suicide is an extreme response to depression.
Patients who have killed themselves have failed to deal with the deluge of negative thoughts in their disturbed minds.
Suicide has been their avenue of escape from the possibility of dying a painful death or living with stigma after recovery.
Among those who have died by suicide is a man from Tripura who worked at the Delhi airport.
A resident of Agartala, he had tested positive after a swab test and was said to be disturbed after recovery.
In another shocking case, a woman committed suicide at GBP Hospital in Agartala allegedly because she was afraid even before she tested positive.
A 21-year-old post-graduate student from Imphal studying in Chandigarh tested positive.
After being discharged from the isolation ward of the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), she had been home quarantined.
If a 38-year-old COVID-19 patient who had tested negative during a repeat test committed suicide in Patna, a 56-year-old IRS officer is said to have killed himself even after he got himself tested.
The report stated that he wasn’t COVID-19 positive, but he was afraid that his family might get infected because of him.
The case of the disturbed IRS officer would baffle the most seasoned psychologist in the world.
As COVID-19 continues to unleash distress worldwide, it is clear that India, which has the highest case fatality rate (CFR) among South Asian countries, hasn’t been able to contain the pandemic.
Because of the easing of restrictions in most places, the average individual has become more vulnerable to the possibility of getting infected.
Healthcare professionals are under stress, and so are hospitals.
The situation, in short, is worrisome.
Exposed to news, which gives little reason for feeling cheerful, patients are aware that the consequences of getting infected extend beyond falling sick and recovery.
It is possible many of them believe that they will confront a hostile society even after they recover.
Besides, COVID-19 is a mysterious illness.
A reliable vaccine seems to be some distance away.
The sincerity of the medical professional notwithstanding, treatment until now is mostly based on guesswork and hope.
As science fights a battle to find a solution that can heal, people falling sick have every right to wonder whether they will recover someday.
They might also believe that the virus will never leave their bodies permanently, which will make them carry disaster wherever they go.
Imagination set free can be dangerous.
The present situation has strengthened the power of irrational thought, which can cause depression and make a few take that shocking final step in life.
As the government struggles to contain the pandemic, it also needs to spread the message that COVID-19 is an illness like any other far more forcefully.
The odd mention isn’t good enough.
Biswadeep Ghosh is an author and freelance journalist and can be reached at [email protected]