Blossoming life midst shadow of depression

Harrowing tales of parents eliminating the lives of their own children are becoming distressingly common in Kerala
Harrowing tales of parents eliminating the lives of their own children are becoming distressingly common in Kerala
Blossoming life midst shadow of depression

Harrowing tales of parents eliminating the lives of their own children are becoming distressingly common in Kerala. These heart-wrenching acts, driven by the despair of insurmountable financial woes or the fear of societal disgrace, paint a grim picture. Equally tragic are the young lives lost to the intricate and often misunderstood state of postpartum depression. Research reveals that 28 per cent of women in Kerala grapple with this emotional turbulence. Yet, the State still seeks a compassionate and comprehensive approach to address this silent crisis.

The research series ‘Melancholy and pangs of birth’ by Metro Vaartha correspondent Neethu Chandran starts today.

Innocent cries silenced: The ongoing tragedy of infant mortality

Neethu Chandran

By the time he pulled the tiny, lifeless body from the courier packet abandoned by the roadside, the last beat of life had slipped away. This baby boy, barely minutes old, still bore the blood of his birth. It hadn’t been long since a blood-soaked body was discarded on the roadside in Kochi's Panampilly Nagar, a sight that jolted all of Kerala. Sadly, this is not the first time that infants have met such tragic ends in Kerala. Disturbingly, the occurrences of parents ending their own child's life are becoming alarmingly frequent. From January to May 2024 alone, seven such cases were reported. If we look back to November 2023, the number of children lost rises to 12.

Among these heart-wrenching tales are parents who, unable to surmount financial hardships, tragically take their own lives along with those of their children. Others, driven by the dread of societal shame, commit the unthinkable to preserve their honour. The reasons behind each of these harrowing acts are manifold - ranging from the crushing weight of social circumstances, mental illness, postpartum depression and financial despair to the trauma of sexual assault. The tragic loss of young lives to the complex mental turmoil known as postpartum depression is particularly poignant. Studies reveal that 28 per cent of women in Kerala grapple with this silent adversary. But Kerala still continues its search for a compassionate and effective solution to this pervasive issue.

Cast into darkness forever

The heart-wrenching incident of the newborn, swathed in a courier packet and abandoned by the roadside in Panampilly Nagar, is but one sorrowful tale among many. Recently, a mother’s fury towards her partner resulted in the brutal and fatal beating of her one-and-a-half-year-old child. The alarming rise in infant deaths across Kerala paints a grim picture. According to the Crime Statistics of the Kerala Police, six cases involving the murder of children have already been registered by February 2024, with a staggering 25 such cases reported in 2023 alone.

When such harrowing incidents come to light, the underlying causes are often overshadowed by the sheer horror of the crime itself. The tragic acts eclipse the profound struggles that precipitate them. Many of the accused endure overwhelming mental stress, a silent torment so profound that even those closest to them fail to comprehend its depths.

On December 27, 2023, in Pothencode, Thiruvananthapuram, a mother, driven by despair, cast her 36-day-old baby into a well. The child's mother was soon arrested, and in her anguish, she confessed that overwhelming financial difficulties had driven her to this tragic act. Her baby, born ill, had not even been christened due to lack of funds. The bleakness of the road ahead clouded her mind, transforming her into the unthinkable - murderer of her own child.

In a society that only extends sympathy to children with visible disabilities or autism, it is a daunting struggle even for economically stable families to navigate such hardships. The relentless grip of anxiety, boredom and sorrow can deeply disturb their mental well-being, revealing the profound impact of unaddressed emotional turmoil.

Post-pregnancy depression

In numerous heartbreaking instances, the shadow of postpartum depression has claimed the lives of innocent children. These tragedies should not be viewed solely as criminal acts but also as manifestations of profound mental anguish. Postpartum depression transcends mere emotion; it is a complex state of mind that, if left unaddressed, can tragically consume both mother and child.

Like any other ailment, postpartum depression can be effectively treated and cured if diagnosed promptly. However, societal reluctance to acknowledge and support those grappling with this condition remains a significant barrier.

Haunting ledger of tragedy

March 5, 2024

Tragedy struck Poovarani in Pala, Kottayam, claiming the lives of five family members. Among the deceased are Jason Thomas (42), hailing from Nandupara in Urulikunnam, his wife Marina (28) from the Elangulam Kalarikkal family, and their young children Gerald (4), Gerina (2), and Jeril (7 months).

Pala police investigation unraveled a grim truth: Jason had taken his own life after tragically ending those of his beloved wife and children. The family’s dire financial circumstances was the chilling motive behind these heinous acts. The ghastly scene was first discovered by an auto-rickshaw driver who arrived at their home that fateful morning.

March 1, 2024

Jumailath (29), a resident of Andipattu House in Ellumpuram, has been apprehended in connection with the heartrending murder of a three-day-old infant in Tanur. The newborn had been delivered at Kozhikode Medical College. Shockingly, the accused confessed to the police that she committed this heinous act to conceal the illicit birth. Living in seclusion and estranged from her husband for a year, Jumailath's tragic actions underscore a tale of despair. The infant's life was abruptly ended, and the tiny body laid to rest in a field adjacent to the house.

February 17, 2024

Shilpa of Shoranur in Palakkad was apprehended for the murder of one-year-old Shikhanya. The heinous act was committed as the child was perceived as an obstacle to the mother's employment. Shilpa callously strangled the baby to death at her rented residence in Mavelikkara. Prior to the gruesome act, she had even sent a chilling message to her partner Ajmal, indicating her intent to kill the child.

January 2024

Jose Pramod (41) from Jawahar Nagar in Kollam’s Chembakassery took his own life after extinguishing the lives of his two beloved children Devanarayanan (9) and Devananda (4).

December 2023

At Thalavadi in Alappuzha, a couple, Sunu and his wife Soumya, chose to end their lives, along with those of their three-year-old twins, Aadhi and Adil. The heavy burden of debt and the shadow of illness proved insurmountable and forced them to this heartbreaking decision.

December 7, 2023

In a heartbreaking incident in Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta, a newborn's life was tragically cut short when the infant's mother, Neethu (20) from Mullappally, poured water on its tender face. Neethu has since been arrested in connection with this devastating crime.

December 12, 2023

In a heart-wrenching act, a one-and-a-half-month-old infant was brutally murdered by her own mother Aswathy and her lover Shanif in Elamakkara, Kochi.

December 19, 2023

Anushka, a tender soul at the age of eight, met a tragic end at the hands of her own mother, Mini. Strangled to silence and then callously discarded into the depths of a well, Anushka's life was already burdened with the challenges of being differently-abled.

December 27, 2023

At Pothencode in Thiruvananthapuram, a 36-day-old infant was callously thrown into a well by its mother Manjamala Suritha. The grim motive behind this tragic act was revealed to be the crushing weight of financial hardships.

(Next in the series is The stranglehold of postpartum depression)

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