Ambala murder-suicide: Symptoms unnoticeable, awareness campaigns need of hour, say experts

A 33-year-old man had killed his elderly parents, his wife, and his daughters, before dying by suicide inside his Balana village residence in Ambala on Friday.

The incident, which triggered massive intrigue in the region with people streaming in from nearby villages to try and get a glimpse inside Sukhwinder’s house, is not one off, records showed.

In the last eight years or so, there have been at least four similar incidents where a man had murdered his family before proceeding to die by suicide in the Chandigarh and Panchkula region. In three of the cases, the perpetrator had left behind a note citing monetary losses and a huge debt as triggers for them having taken the extreme step.

Clinical and educationalist psychologists termed the incidents as ‘alarming call for the society’ to wake up, and maintained that only adequate campaigns to tackle suicidal tendencies, and spreading awareness on ways to overcome depression and feeling of emptiness could act as possible safeguards.

“Incidents in which a person dies by suicide after killing his family members involves many aspects. It shows the person’s helplessness, his/her mental state of all doors having closed, the possessiveness for their family, and a desperation to tell the world the mental trauma and sufferings he/she was going through suicide notes. In most of the cases, the victims lived in teh nuclear family set up. Research suggests that people suffering from such tendencies start showing symptoms days before they take a drastic step. However, these symptoms mostly go unnoticed,” said Professor Adarsh Kohli,  former senior Clinical Psychologist of PGIMER.

She maintained, “These incidents are different from incidents of individual suicides. Adequate awareness through media, TV channels, books, newspapers is the need of the hour to curb such unfortunate incidents.”

Dr Roshan Lal, chairman of Department of Psychology, Panjab University, added, “Changing social structures, changing bounding among families, lifestyle, social, economic insecurities and the peak amount of aggression of the perpretators against people in a position of power against whom they cannot do anything results in family suicides, murders. In most of these cases, monetary affairs are involved. I believe these incidents will increase in the society in future. Law enforcement agencies cannot do much in this regard. Social organisations, counsellors need to step up and do their bits to prevent such tragedies.”