After 7 suicides, Kerala CM says people with prescription from doctors can get liquor

In the past week, seven people committed suicide out of depression over not being able to buy liquor in Kerala, while the virus has resulted in one casualty so far.

Thiruvananthapuram| After the three-week lockdown was announced on March 24, all commercial establishments including liquor shops have been shut down. The state governments have been flooded with reports of people threatening with suicides, violent bouts and withdrawal symptoms from many areas.

With suicide cases being reported from various parts of the state after liquor sales were stopped in Kerala following the lockdown, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has directed the Excise Department to provide liquor to those with a prescription from a doctor.

The move comes after many reportedly showed acute withdrawal symptoms and suicide cases were reported in the state.

On Saturday, in Kodungaloor in Thrissur district, a youth committed suicide by jumping into the river after suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

In another incident, a 38-year-old man working in a barbershop in Kayamkulam consumed shaving lotion after he didn’t get alcohol. Though he was taken to hospital after he developed uneasiness, he died.

The Kerala government has also asked the Excise Department to provide free treatment and admit people with withdrawal symptoms to the de-addiction centres.

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A prescription by a doctor advising liquor for his patient has gone viral on social media.

Prescription by a doctor, who practices at Kodungallur and North Paravur, advises 60 ml of liquor, three times a day, with soda and roasted peanuts for his patient.

The prescription appeared soon after the government suggestion to give liquor on doctors’ prescription for people, who suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

After the alcohol ban, the 14405 toll-free number of Kerala’s Excise department’s de-addiction programme called ‘Vimukthi’ is flooded with distress calls until, at times, as early as 4 am. Mental health specialists working in the call centres recounted cases as strange as someone hallucinating about a child buried in his courtyard, or refusing to accept their own house.

The state government’s decision to provide liquor as per doctor’s prescription to those who show withdrawal symptoms have invited flak from the medical community. Medical bodies like the Indian Medical Association and Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association said instead of providing liquor the government should seek scientific ways to address the issue.

(Inputs from agencies)

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