The digital divide may have claimed yet another life. This time at Bally, in West Bengal's Howrah district where a 16-year old school girl was found dead at her home on Thursday. The family has said she may have taken her life because she couldn't join online classes as she did not have a smartphone.
The Class 10 student of an English medium school in Bally was found dead by her older brother when he came home from playing cricket in the neighbourhood around 6 pm on Thursday.
The two siblings were living alone in a rented house in the Nishchinda police station area. Their parents had gone to their native village in Bihar three days before the lockdown was announced and had been there since.
"I had taken the smartphone we owned with me," said father Sentu Sau who rushed back from Bihar on getting news of his daughter's death. Mr Sau is a truck owner and driver.
"She had an ordinary cell phone but it had fallen in the water and got spoiled. My son said she was very worried about her studies as she could not join online classes because she didn't have a phone," he added.
"I can't blame anyone for what happened," he said.
The police have confirmed there was no suicide note and depression over the loss of her cellphone appears to be the primary cause behind her death.
"She was a quiet girl, rarely came out of the house but often spoke about how her studies were suffering," landlord Bipul Das said.
"I would have bought her a phone the minute I got back," the father lamented. Her brother, too, was reportedly aware that she was upset about not being able to attend the online classes but did not realise how anxious she had become about it.
(If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist.)
AASRA: 91-22-27546669 (24 hours)
Sneha Foundation: 91-44-24640050 (24 hours)
Vandrevala Foundation for Mental Health: 1860-2662-345 and 1800-2333-330 (24 hours)
iCall: 022-25521111 (Available from Monday to Saturday: 8:00am to 10:00pm)
Connecting NGO: 18002094353 (Available from 12 pm - 8 pm)