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Home > News > Report

NGO begins anti-suicide e-mail service

By S Srinivasan in Bangalore | September 19, 2005 21:47 IST

A suicide prevention group in south India said Monday it has begun counselling depressed people by e-mail, saying workplace stress and depression following 2004's tsunami were driving some to consider killing themselves.

Sneha, which means 'affection' in some Indian languages, has prevented 10 suicides using e-mail since launching the service September 10, said P V Sankaranarayanan, Sneha's director. His claim could not be independently verified.

"We had to do this because even those who want to commit suicide are not writing letters anymore," he said from Chennai where the group, one of India's largest suicide-prevention organisations, is based.

Suicidal individuals normally phone, visit or write letters to Sneha for counseling.

An increasing number of callers are part of India's one million-strong outsourcing work force who cite work-related stress as the cause of their depression, Sankaranarayanan said adding, that many of these computer-savvy people prefer to be counselled by e-mail.

Earlier attempts by similar groups to use e-mail for suicide prevention, a common practice in the West, failed because of low levels of computer use in India.

But the spread of cyber cafes and home computers, and improving telecommunications should allow e-mail to play a bigger role in stopping people from taking their own lives, Sankaranarayanan said.

He said survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami alongTamil Nadu's coast who are suicidal after losing family members or their homes, now have another way to contact the group.

"E-mail is more anonymous compared to letters or phone," he added.

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