Tamil Nadu: Suicide victims’ kin allege cases being wrongly attributed to online rummy and gambling

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In Tamil Nadu, some cases relating to people committing suicides have been attributed to be due to the addiction to online gambling. However, these claims are being refuted by the families of some of the people. Despite the fact that deaths brought on by online gambling losses are a serious worry for the state, families also claim that inaccurate information limits the help that can be provided.

DT Next interviewed many such family members who are affected. One of them is Saranya who found out that her husband took his life while she was at work. She said, “We wanted to buy a house, so we took a housing loan. We were required to pay an EMI of Rs 23,000, but couldn’t, due to which we endured a lot of mental pressure. He didn’t even have a smartphone.”

A TP Chatram resident, Nitish Kumar, attended SRM College and was a BCA student. On the side he worked at a tattoo parlour. After his passing police and news sources asserted that his death was caused by losses incurred due to online rummy but his family refuted this assertion.

His brother, Akash said, “Police also believed he killed himself due to online rummy but this is not true. They did not investigate properly and now CB-CID is investigating. Now no one helps us thinking I too will spend money the same way.”

In another case, a domestic worker, Bhuvaneshwari was saving money for her child’s education but her alcoholic husband wasted it all due to which she took her own life.

Her mother said, “Unable to bear this, she ended life. She was tired of her husband’s alcohol addiction. But to the media, police said her husband played online games.”

A cop with Coimbatore City Armed Reserve Battalion II, R Kalimuthu committed suicide on duty and the incident was also portrayed as the result of addiction to online rummy and gambling.

However, Kalimuthus’s wife Thilainayagi refuted it and said, “His salary as a constable was not sufficient. So he started borrowing. But when we were not able to repay, loan sharks came calling. They started to abuse and threaten him.”

Thilainayagi did not receive any support from the government or any other organization after her spouse passed away since he was alleged to have participated in online gambling. She also tried to take her own life due to mental suffering but failed.

In all these cases, the family members are not getting any kind of support as the suicides are being labeled as a consequence of online rummy or gambling.

P Sridhar, a member of the Rotary Rainbow Project, who assists the families of suicide victims in Tamil Nadu, commented on the matter, saying, “It is our moral responsibility to help these traumatized families as well as to identify the root cause of these tragic incidents and work to find a long-term, sustainable solution to prevent such in the future. Assigning a single, deceptive label to all suicides is a terrible injustice to the victims and their kin mourning the loss of their loved ones and trying to cope.”

He claimed that because online gamblers taking life is viewed as an act of irresponsibility, this also prevents organizations or individuals from providing aid to them. In many situations, the victims are attributed to the same since the cause was not clearly understood.

Eshita, founder of Black and White Enterprise, that conducts research on the implications of laws and political decisions for suicide victims said, “There is a difference when there is a suicidal death in the family due to alleged involvement in online gambling. The family is marginalized and there is a taboo that restricts any help to them. Not just the family members, but also the extended family members are labeled as gamblers.”