Case I: On January 18, a couple was found dead in their rented apartment at Changathali in Mahalaxmi Municipality-7 in Lalitpur. According to police, 32-year-old Sagar Pokharel, and his 20-year-old wife Nirmala Khanal were found dead in their room. The preliminary investigation of police shows that the couple committed suicide by consuming Celphos, a fumigant used for the control of a wide range of field rodents and insect pests that are found in stored commodities.
Case II: Three members of a family in Madhyapur Thimi Municipality in Bhaktapur were found dead in a mysterious condition in September last year. Those found dead were Sudip Adhikari, 36, his wife Samjhana, 34, and their 15-year-old son Sushant. Police investigation concluded that Sudip first killed his wife Samjhana and his son Sushant before committing suicide.
Case III: A few days ago, a couple was found dead in a housing based in Tokha, Kathmandu. According to police, Sudiksha Giri murdered her husband Umesh KC before committing suicide. KC was found dead in the bedroom, while his wife was found hanging.
These are just a few cases in point. The cases of murder-suicide have become more frequent than before. Why are such cases on the rise? Mental health experts argue that there is more than just one reason behind such incidents.
“The recent cases of murder-suicides are reported among married couple, and there might be several reasons behind it. Several murder-suicide instances show that couples were involved in murdering their partner in aggression. After realizing that heinous crime is committed, they commit suicide to end their own life,” said Jagannath Lamichhane, a mental health expert.
Lamichhane believes that socio-economic factors equally play a role behind such cases. “If a husband or wife is not happy with their relationship, they compromise to save their relationship fearing the society. And in unhealthy relationships, serious problems may arise at any time,” he said, adding that couples are found to have committed such crimes in aggression.
“There might be several reasons behind murder-suicide cases. One of the reasons I see is ‘extended suicide’. In this case, the murderer sees the murdered person as an extension of self. The murderers do not want to see the murdered person (who they have emotional attachment) to suffer in life. So, they commit the crime,” Dr Sagun Ballav Pant, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH). Mental health professionals describe Bhaktapur case as an extended murder-suicide case.
While stating that untreated mental illness and socio-economic factors including worsening financial condition, Dr Pant added that the recent instances of such cases show that the government needs to increase mental health awareness. “The problem of mental health crisis is already on the rise. It is hightime the the government acted and increased awareness among people,” he said, adding that since suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem people need to share with friends and family members if they experience suicidal thought.