A farm labourer, who lost his home during cyclone Gaja, allegedly committed suicide on Monday in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district. Pandian, 38, was found hanging in a well in his village. The police have not found any suicide note but claim initial investigations indicate he was "heart-broken after he lost his home and committed suicide."
A daily wage labourer, Pandian was the only breadwinner in the family, police say. He was unmarried and was living with his father after his mother died. His elder brother lives separately with his family.
The coastal districts of Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Pudukottai in the Cauvery delta have seen an alarming trend of suicidal tendencies, after the cyclone, according to social workers. Earlier this month two farmers from Thanjavur and Pudukottai reportedly committed suicide. Thousands of uprooted coconut trees and straw huts razed to the ground in the Gaja-hit districts tell its own tragic tale.
Over three lakh people in coastal Tamil Nadu lost their homes and livelihood after the cyclone. Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan demanded counselling for the communities that have lost their livelihood. He met the affected communities twice and accused the Tamil Nadu government of conducting an "armchair assessment".
"The people need psycho-therapy and counselling so that they don't indulge in any silly or drastic action against themselves or others," said the actor.
The government, however, claims it is trying its best to deal with the aftermath of the colossal damage caused by the cyclone. "We let them share and they feel better once they understand that many like them have undergone this. We also refer some people to primary health centres. We send some people for psychiatric care," Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan said.
Cyclone Gaja, with wind speeds of up to 110 km, hit coastal Tamil Nadu mid-November, killing 63 people. According to government estimates, 11 lakh trees were uprooted, over three lakh houses were damaged and hundreds of fishermen's boats were destroyed.