Chennai: For many years, the Cooum River was known across the country for its deadly stench. But in recent times, it seems to have just become deadly. The river, which was once the drinking water and navigation lifeline for Madras, seems to be gaining in popularity with people who want to kill themselves. The rising number of those jumping into the Cooum to end their lives has prompted the Chennai Corporation to plan the erection of high walls on all bridges across the river.
Enough has already been said about how Chennai has emerged as the suicide capital of the country in a recent report released by the National Crime Records Bureau. While poison, nooses and knives remain the most popular, the cost-free nature of death-by-Cooum seems to be catching on. A total of 11 people have died so far this year alone after jumping into the Cooum. Most recently, a labourer named Das jumped into the Cooum in broad daylight on July 15 at Chintadripet. He was reportedly taking treatment for alcoholism and committed suicide after finding it difficult to quit drinking.
Last year, 50 people attempted suicide by jumping into the stinking river. Out of these, Fire and Rescue Services Personnel managed to save 35. Most of those who die after jumping into the Cooum do not lose their lives to drowning. They suffocate to death, thanks to the fumes rising out of the river and a lack of oxygen. This seems to be contemporary Chennai’s suicidal replacement for wells, which are fast vanishing from the city.
Buying poisonous substances is becoming increasingly difficult, and hanging and slashing are gruesome and painful. This, added to the fact that most tall buildings keep their roofs locked seem to be behind the quick decision to jump over the rails into the Cooum.
The Chintadripet locality seems to be especially preferred by jumpers. Official sources have told City Express that most of those who jump into the Cooum do so from bridges between Chindadripet - Egmore, Pudupet - Chindadripet and Chindadripet - Sivananda Salai. “Every week we get calls about people who have jumped into the Cooum. We rush to rescue them. Most of the jumpers we don’t manage to save are cases when we get the information late,” said an official, Fire and Rescue Services Department.
Taking this state of affairs into consideration, the Chennai Corporation is making a comprehensive plan to save Chennai’s depressed from a stinking end. Sources in the civic body say they are working on a plan to increase the height of walls on the bridges across the Cooum, and that work will begin soon.