Man Commits Suicide in India's Kerala as State Closes Liquor Sales During Lockdown


A 38-year-old man in Kerala’s Thrissur district committed suicide on Thursday after he underwent withdrawal symptoms, unable to get his daily dose of liquor.

According to the family, the deceased K. Sanoj was disturbed and turned violent as he could not get alcohol. The police recorded the cause of his death as “stress due to unavailability of liquor”.

Kerala had ordered the closure of all liquor sales in the state during the lockdown. The state, which has one of the highest rates of consumption of liquor in the country had even enlisted the support of counsellors to handle depression caused by the move.

Minister of Health of the state, K.K Shailaja said: “For providing mental health support to families of individuals who are exhibiting symptoms, 375 members have been deployed across districts in the state. 35,312 telephonic counselling sessions have been made available till date.”

Kerala Minister Kadakampalli Surendran expressed concern that the lack of liquor in the state would have serious repercussions for society. The Excise Department of the state on Thursday announced free treatment in addiction and counselling centres to  people suffering from physical or mental stress due to lack of alcohol.

Kerala has 565 licensed bars, selling liquor, and over 3,600 licensed shops selling a locally brewed drink known as toddy.

“As large numbers of people are dependent on alcohol, the deprivation can lead to withdrawal symptoms and further serious consequences. It can lead to delirium – a state of disorientation and confusion,” Dr. Roy Kallivayalil Professor and Head of Department of Psychiatry, Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Secretary General at World Psychiatric Association told Sputnik.

He added this has to be dealt by providing addiction services immediately.

The first confirmed case of Coronavirus was reported in Kerala on 30 January. The state has the highest number of positive cases of the infection at 130, including 3 foreign nationals. India has so far reported 17 deaths and currently has 724 confirmed cases of COVID19, including 47 foreign nationals, according to the federal Health and Family Welfare Ministry. 

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