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Suicides rampant in Telangana prisons

HYDERABAD: In a worrying trend for prison officials, convicts in Telangana are increasingly resorting to suicide in jails. As many as 10 prisoners have committed suicide so far this year, including two inmates of Cherlapalli Central Prison who ended their lives in the last two days — one hanged himself, the other consumed phenyl.
“The situation is indeed alarming. During 2014, as many as 56 prisoners committed suicide and during 2013, 53 prisoners took their lives. We are trying to understand what drives them to suicide so that we can take measures to prevent it,” SP Singh, DG prisons, Telangana, said.
According to prisons department officials, several reasons lead to this extreme step. “Prisoners are disturbed and discouraged when their family members do not visit them. That is when they feel too lonely and see no meaning in continuing to live,” an official said. Sometimes, they also suffer physical ailments or are overtaken by remorse for their crimes.
Prison officials do offer help to such prisoners, but it is not enough at times. “We have counselling sessions for the prisoners. Our officials speak to them when they are brought to the jail,” IG prisons, M Chandrasekhar, said. Those suffering from depression and mental health issues are also taken to the hospital. However, most jails lack trained counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Quite obviously, the situation is drastically different in seven district jails, three central prisons and one women’s jail in Telangana. In the last two days, two inmates of the Central Prison, Cherlapalli near Hyderabad committed suicides — one hanged himself to death and another consumed phenyl.
Prisons are supposed to have ‘welfare officers’ to look after the interests of the prisoners. But instead of these welfare officers being appointed, only jail officials have been designated as welfare officer, which does not serve much of a purpose.
DG prisons S P Singh said help of some NGOs and universities was being proposed to be taken to find a solution to the problem of suicides in jails.

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