Cases of suicide attempts are on a rise in the city, the most recent case being that of Mamatha, a farmer’s wife, who allegedly tried to consumed 25 sleeping tablets in Ramanagara. Even as abuse of sedatives is rampant, city pharmacists say they don’t give out pills such as Alprazolam or Diazepam without proper prescriptions from a doctor.
“We are not allowed to give any sedatives without a valid prescription verified by a doctor,” says Deepika N, a manager of Relegere Medical Store in RT Nagar.
According to the laws, it is illegal to give out the names of these tablets to customers. “We are not even allowed to give out names of the tablets over the counters. It is illegal to tell the names as they might go to another pharmacy and buy them,” says Hukkumchand, manager of Cash Pharmacy on St Mark’s Road.
However, some pharmacists are willing to give the pills if the customer seems genuine and convinces them about his or her need for the pill. “Some customers come in seeking a sedative urgently. These are patients who come to get their blood pressure pills along with other medicines. Usually, these pills are coupled with sedatives as part of the required dosage. In such cases, we give them sedatives with the lowest strength,” says Balaji Raman, a chemist in Rajajinagar.
Prescription drug violations have been on the rise in the city. Psychologists say it is because people who can be potential threats to their own lives are clever enough to get their drugs from chemists even without a prescription. “Psychologists are not allowed to prescribe sleeping tablets to patients, but we get many cases where people have attempted suicides by consuming sleeping pills,” says Dr Mythili Sarma, clinical psychologist, Adhidhara Clinic.
Further, these are people who meticulously plan suicide. “No doctor will prescribe strong medications to any patients. Let them be of any age, they will be prescribed only mild sedatives. The patients I have seen have told me that certain drug stores are willing to sell these pills at an extra cost without any prescription,” says Sharma.
In most cases, all that the person needs is emotional care or counselling. When met with such care and attention, they may even hold back from attempting suicides.
“In most cases, we can see subtle signs. But in planned suicides, even these signs cannot be seen. They would have accumulated the pills so that they can consume it when they feel choked. We need to be sensitive towards such people before making any judgment about them. With adequate counselling and care, a person could be held back from attempting to commit suicide,” says Sharma.