Friday, September 28, 2007

'Abused' Asian women behind soaring toll of railway suicides

An article in The Daily Mail states that there has been a dramatic increase in suicides on railway lines - particularly on a railway line that runs through Southall. And as a woman's rights group suggests, these suicides are linked to a high prevalence of domestic violence inflicting Asian families:
Rail suicides are soaring because of a dramatic rise in Asian women killing themselves on just one stretch of track, a train company's internal report has revealed. An incredible one third of the total for England and Wales now happen on the line going through Southall, West London, which has a large Asian community.
The article goes on to discuss the death of Navjeet Sidhu who, after experiencing extreme turmoil and stress, jumped in front of a train with her two young children. This was disturbingly followed by the death of her mother, who also jumped in front of a train at the same spot less than a year later. As women's rights groups suggest, the root of these suicides lie in domestic violence and family problems:
Hannana Siddiqui, from women's group Southall Black Sisters, claimed abuse and "sensitive cultural issues" were at the root of the problem. She said: "The high instance of Asian women suicides is linked to abusive practices within Asian families. There is a correlation between these suicides and violence in Asian homes. Psychiatric research has shown there are rarely cases of mental disorders in these cases, suggesting they are the result of social circumstances. These women are often isolated and find it hard to escape."
Being a passionate public health advocate, I tend to wonder how these things can be prevented. There is a need to provide resources to this population. The problem is obviously both health-related as well as culturally-related and I am quite conscious of the fact that receiving treatment for mental health problems is not very common in this community. Also, I think there is a disparity in individuals being able to identify the need for psychological help. But something has got to change... hearing these stories should be troubling to us all.


Kaptaan said...

I was in the UK over the summer and had a chance to travel through Southall and visit the large Gurdwara, which was quite a nice landmark and see the beautiful design and architecture.

Why not approach the management of this and area Gurdwaras to have open counselling and stress reduction workshops at the Gurdwaras? After all, Gurdwaras are for the benefit of the sangat...

Simran Kaur said...

Kaptaan, thanks for your comment. I agree that Gurdwaras have a great potential to be a place of opportunity for our community. I think we have to get past the many issues we hear about that exist within our gurdwaras today. If we can get past this and begin a grassroots response from our gurdwaras to solve some of the issues we deal with in our community, i really think it would make a difference.

I agree that the Gurdwara in Southall is truly wonderful.