Suicides amongst Asian women continues to rise

In a recent inquest into the death of Ravinder Dokal, the coroner declared it as a suicide. Ravinder’s family alongside Southall Black Sisters had been trying to question the issue of suicide. Ravinder’s body was found hanging in the family run shop in Southall, where she also worked.

Ravinder’s brother, Harmeet Singh felt that his sister was under extreme pressure from her husband and his family – he knew Ravinder to be out going, taking care of her appearance and very social-able. He said that he felt that “Ravinder was being restricted that led her to state many time that she felt “suffocated”, which she commented on several occasions – she said that she wasn’t allowed to do things like jogging, going to the gym”.

Despite Harmeet Singh’s view that Ravinder was under a lot of pressure, he questions the verdict of suicide. The coroner however ruled out death by any other means other than suicide and stated that Ravinder “hanged herself because of anxiety and that she took her own life”.

Hannana Siddiqui at Southall Black Sisters says that “Research shows Asian women are three times more likely to kill themselves than other members of the population. It’s an urgent matter that needs to be addressed” Southall Black Sisters have led the study and campaign on Asian Women and Suicide before the issue was taken up nationally.

Major cities throughout the UK are grappling with the difficulties of assisting Asian women and mental health. Talking to the BBC about a video that Northern Birmingham Mental Health Trust has produced, Lakhvir Rellon explains that: “that the video was produced after it was found that campaigns aimed at encouraging these women to get help were failing to get into the Asian community.” Lakhvir Rellon, Asian services development manager for the Northern Birmingham Mental Health Trust, said: “A lot of debate and information tends to stay around professionals and academics. We weren’t sure if the Asian community was aware that there was a problem. We wanted to produce a resource which would increase awareness and enable people to discuss the issue in a safe environment.” She said the reasons for the high suicide rates were complex. “There are likely to be a number of reasons and these are likely to be related to the social realities of women of Indian origin living in the UK. Factors could include difficulties in family relations, social isolation or racism. It could also be because of conflicts arising within a family or within the community because the woman wants autonomy and control over her own life.” Read the full interview.

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