GUJRANWALA: In recent years, Pakistani couples not accepted by one partner’s family or the other’s have chosen to end their lives. However, what happened in Gujranwala on Wednesday breaks away from the regular tradition.
From Romeo and Juliet to Laila Majnu, fiction is littered with examples where couples killed themselves because their love was not accepted by the society and their families. On the other hand, while Islam forbids suicide, the trend in Pakistan has wandered into the other direction.
A boy and a girl allegedly committed suicide on Wednesday by jumping in front of a moving train near Mujahidpura.
The victims have been identified as Madiha* and Asad*. They are said to have been 25-30 years old.
Their love was forbidden, as Madiha* was married to another man for over two years. She lived with her husband – a rickshaw driver – and her in-laws in Nawab Town.
According to the family, Madiha* ran away from home on Monday, after which they began a search for her, but to no avail. Two days later she and her lover Asad* ended their lives.
As per the railway crossing operator, who witnessed the suicide, the boy and girl turned up at the railway track, held hands, and leapt in front of an oncoming train, which killed them instantly.
Suicides over the past
On January 16 this year, a 16-year-old student reportedly committed suicide in Islamabad’s Tarnol area. He was in love with his teacher, and killed himself using his father’s firearm over unrequited feelings, police said.
Last year, in August, a girl and boy in Sargodga killed themselves using poison, an investigation officer mentioned. Bodies of the couple, who wanted to get married, were found in a car.
In 2015, a young man in Faisalabad turned the gun on himself after critically injuring a kabaddi player. While the girl’s father said the attack was carried out over a payment dispute of a laptop, sources told Geo News that the youth was interested in marrying the girl, and took the decision following a spat that created rifts between the two.
How common is suicide and what’s being done for it?
According to ‘Suicide and Suicide Prevention in Asia’ by World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, young adults formed the highest portion of total suicides over the 1991-2006 time period (Khan et al., 2007). Over the 15-year timeframe, the suicide rate per 100,000 people has risen from 0.43 to 2.86.
Of these, 37% did so by hanging, while 29% poisoned themselves. Most of the suicides take place in urban areas, compared to rural. The male-to-female ratio is 2.2:1.
According to women empowerment website Next Generation Moms, “studies had shown that suicide contagion in schools is one of increasing top of list contagion in Pakistan. Indeed one suicide leads in clusters of suicides with suicide note.”
The country’s law, on the other hand, marks suicide as a criminal offence. Pakistan Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860), section 325, “Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which extends to one year or with fine or both.”
However, a major step forward was in in 2011, when Mind Organization, an NGO, established a suicide.
*names have been changed for privacy