23 Oct 2020
Coronavirus-induced woes, broken phone cost family their 16-year-old son
A family in Goa, struggling to meet ends after the coronavirus outbreak, was devastated this month after their 16-year-old son took his life, over a broken phone.
The deceased, a Class 10 student, couldn't attend classes after his phone screen broke.
Already short on funds, the family asked him to wait till the phone is fixed.
He didn't listen and instead committed suicide.
Lockdown hit earnings, left family in shambles
The family hails from Pal village in the coastal state's Sattari taluka and their lives turned upside down after the lockdown.
The teen's father, employed as a bus driver, earned Rs. 700 per day. After the restrictions were imposed, he was out of work for four months.
When relaxations were given, he started earning again, but not enough to sustain his family.
The student's phone broke, he wanted to get it fixed
In July, the father returned to work and on "good days" earned Rs. 500; less than what the pre-lockdown era got him. He said the struggle left everyone in the family in bad mood.
On October 11, the teen informed his mother that the smartphone had broken.
IE said the boy kept quiet for some days before confiding in his mother.
Series of events
Mother asked teen to wait, he threw a tantrum
When the mother told the phone couldn't be repaired at once, the teen threw a tantrum, the father said.
"When I came back from work, he got into an argument with me and I held him by his collar. He stopped me saying, 'I have only one nice shirt'," he added.
He removed the shirt, asking the father to thrash him, but the latter couldn't.
Father told son he had just Rs. 500
The father recalled telling his son that he had merely Rs. 500, which he would spend on rice. "I asked him to wait for four days for me to arrange the Rs. 2,000 he needed to repair the screen," the father said.
But the teen clearly wasn't convinced. On October 15, the class 10 student was found hanging in the house.
He was a friendly child, said the teacher
His untimely demise left his class teacher in shock. He remembered the deceased as a friendly child, who completed homework, and scored good marks in a recent test.
"He would come to school if he had doubts to clear, but he never told us about his mobile phone. If we had known, we would have told him it was ok," the teacher said.
Evidently, the government's schemes aren't helping the needy
Notably, the bereaved family would have weathered this storm if the government helped them.
The deceased's mother is a beneficiary of Griha Aadhar Scheme, but didn't receive money since lockdown, barring the Rs. 1,500 she got during Ganesh Chaturthi.
His grandmother should have also received money under the Dayanand Social Security Scheme but didn't receive a penny for months.
After losing son, father worried about other children
The mother said she lost a good son. "He only spoke of how he will become a 'big man' someday and help us," she said.
Now, the father is concerned about his other two children — an 18-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.
If the daughter's education stops because of meager resources, will she do something similar, the father pondered.
There is no help, lamented the father
The father assailed the politicians as well.
"We are from Dhangar Community. Not a single person except the police and the school teacher has come since Thursday," he stated.
Saying that his efforts to land a government job failed, he added, "There are families here with four to five people in government jobs but the needy have no help," he revealed.
Father shuddered recalling his last conversation with son
The father said his last conversation with his son breaks his heart. "When I was leaving for work the next morning, he said, 'Hit me now if you want, you may not get a chance in the evening," the inconsolable father recalled.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please seek help
In case you need help or know someone who does, you can reach out to AASRA for suicide prevention counseling. Their number is 022 2754 6669 (24 hours).
You can also contact the Hyderabad-based Roshni NGO at +914066202000 or COOJ at +918322252525.
Sneha India Foundation, which works 24X7, can be contacted at +914424640050.
Vandrevala Foundation has trained counselors, and their number is 18602662345.