Muscat: It’s a picture of a normal family but it is a photograph that hides a world of pain which ended in tragedy as both mother and father committed suicide, leaving their two-year-old son an orphan.
Today grieving relatives are still trying to come to terms with their shock, but they took time to think of others and say that people needed to reach out and ask for help if they were battling stress. It’s a message backed up by counsellors who pointed in particular to expatriates adjusting to life away from their family support network.
“If he had reached out to us or his friends and shared his anguish, this would not have happened,” said Ajesh, the brother of Vijesh who, along with his wife Mrudula, committed suicide in Jifnain, near Rusayl, on Monday afternoon.
The couple from the south Indian state of Kerala are survived by their two-and-a-half year-old son, who has been orphaned by the tragedy.
“We were aware that he was under some stress. However, he never opened up to me or to his friends. For the outsiders, they were a happy family. It is quite shocking to know that he has done this,” Ajesh said.
On Tuesday, police had told Times of Oman that the couple had committed suicide in their flat by electrocution.
“Vijesh came to Muscat in 2006. He was working as an electrician and was doing well too. He got married in 2012. They were leading a happy life. However, recently, he had developed a headache. He went to India for treatment. He seemed worried about it. But never used to talk to me even if I asked,” Ajesh, who is taking care of Vijesh’s son, said.
Vijesh’s friends in India were also surprised to hear the news.
“He was a bold person. We can’t even imagine that he has done it,” Prabeesh, a close friend and neighbour of Vijesh in Kerala, said.
“He had built a house recently and even bought a car. He was financially sound too. He helped his brother find a job in Muscat. We can’t understand why he has done this. Mrudula was also a nice woman. For us they were a happy family,” Prabeesh added.
“The entire village is sad after hearing this news. However, Vijesh’s parents have not been informed about the tragedy,” he revealed.
Her Highness Sayyida Basma Al Said, founder, Whispers of Serenity and a mental health counsellor and psychotherapist said she had noticed expats experiencing more stress-related issues compared to Omanis.
Al Said, who has been in the field for the last 15 years, said that she feels that expats face a lot of tension because they have to adapt to a new country, environment and life, which is sometimes very hard.
“It is all about pressure for the expats. At least the nationals have their immediate family support. Sadly, I have been hearing that this is what a lot of expats go through,” she said.
Al Said also urged such persons to, “seek help immediately. Do not wait. When you wait you will do something irrational. The moment you feel you have tried everything and it is not going your way, seek help.”
She also said people who notice their friends going through stressful times should encourage them to go to a therapist.
“Isolating and not communicating with society pushes people to suicide,” stated Al Said.
Shaji Sebastin, a Muscat-based social worker, also echoed the same opinion. “Isolation is one main problem. But in addition to that, I have noticed that if earlier, poverty was a disturbing issue for many expatriates, now people are worried over silly issues,” Sebastin said.
“Of course, staying away from the homeland puts many under stress. But migrant workers should be bold enough to face it. Living a migrant life is not an easy task. They should be mentally prepared for that before migrating,” he added.
According to Sebastin, expatriate organisations can play a vital role in supporting the mentally stressed migrant workers.
“When news reports on suicides come, organisations come up with helpline numbers and all. However, after a few days it all becomes dormant. Other than the embassy helpline, we don’t have a proper professional helpline to save people from committing suicide. Organisations should do more,” Sebastin noted.
Meanwhile, an official from the Bangladesh embassy also stressed the need for more helpline numbers in Oman as many migrant workers, who are far from their home, might be facing different kind of issues which need professional help to overcome.
“Living a migrant life itself is a stressful one. The majority of them are forced to lead a migrant life. Loneliness, liabilities back home, pressure at the workplace, diseases developed due to stress, the list is endless. More helpline numbers attended by professional counsellors is the need of the hour,” the official said.
Role of organisations
Meanwhile, a medic, who is involved in counselling for migrant workers, said migrant organisations should focus more on helping the needy people other than spending time and money holding cultural events.
“Organisations are always involved in holding cultural events. My opinion is that these organisations should focus more on running a permanent set up to counsel or assist the stressed migrant worker,” Dr. Geetha Kumar, a medic in Ibri, said.
There are around 1.9 million migrant workers in Oman.