A Suicide Phenomenon in Malls

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dr. Isa  Multazam Noor, MSc, SpKJ(K)
dr. Isa Multazam Noor, MSc, SpKJ(K)
Psikiater Anak dan Remaja di RSJ Dr Soeharto Heerdjan Grogol, Jakarta Barat
Journal Apr 15, 2018


Kejadian bunuh diri dari mall lantai 8 kembali terjadi lagi di Indonesia, tepatnya di salah mall terkenal di Surabaya. Saya teringat dengan tulisan saya dahulu tentang fenomena ini dan kemudian saya bawa untuk tampil di pertemuan psikiater muda di Jepang.

Tulisan ini pernah saya posting di laman blog saya bulan Maret 2012. Namun sepertinya issue yang di sampaikan dalam tinjauan tersebut masih terasa tidak kudet untuk di perbincangkan.

Ini posting-an saya tersebut dalam bahasa Inggris:

Suicide is an act of hurting one’s self in an individual to end his/her life. The rapid growth of tall buildings in Indonesia has presented an interesting phenomenon, which is a suicide act in Malls. The phenomenon meant here is the suicide act by jumping from the top floor of a shopping center or a mall.

The phenomenon first appeared in around the year 2009. Based on an exploration through several media sources in Indonesia, the number of the phenomenon has increased from year to year. In 2009 there were 2 cases recorded, in 2010 there were 5 cases, and in 2011 the number increased to become 7 suicide cases in the malls. This writing focuses on the suicide study in the malls in the Asian perspective.

Based on a simple analysis towards several suicide cases in the malls happening in Indonesia, the data obtained are as follows: the age of the victims is between 20 and 47 years old, the sex difference is 70% of males and 30% females, most of them jumped from the 4th floor, the act was done between 6 PM and 8.15 PM, and the scene of the suicide act happened 80% on the top floor of the mall and 20% on the top floor of the mall parking building.

The stress factors which are assumed as the trigger of the suicide act, among others, are broken heart, chronic illness, job problems, and school problems. The interesting findings from the cases towards the victims are having the following history: having a history of attempting to commit suicide previously, the victims wrote a message on a piece of paper before committing suicide, and there were some changes in the behaviour in a week or some time before the victims desperately committed suicide, such as having bad temper, being depressed, crying, screaming, and being confused.

From the information elaborated above, it can be concluded that the suicide victims in the urban areas have abandoned the paradigm of the traditional ways in ending their life. In the previous era when there were not many tall buildings existing in Jakarta, some acts, such as drinking poison for killing insects, hanging by the rope, and cutting the vein, became the common ways to commit suicide.

However, now those paradigms have been replaced by jumping from a tall building. This phenomenon certainly cannot be separated from the progress of Jakarta’s development which has become a Super Metropolitan City like a concrete forest in Java Island. Those skycrapers seem to present the ego to compete with the inhabitant individuals to accomplish career and success conquering Jakarta. The vein of the urban area keeps competing to present two sides which are rivals towards each other.

The first side is the narcissistic side of the buildings which always compete to be made higher and higher to reach the sky. On the other hand, the other side is the inhabitant individuals who become more individualistic in their social life. In the end, the individuals who lose in the competition choose the alternative way to commit suicide by jumping from the tallest building as the solution to deal with the high pressure they suffer from in the metropolitan life.

Indonesia as a developing country in Asia has a big power in minimizing the number of victims committing suicide in the malls. The approach of togetherness and smiling in the local cultural wisdom and living in an extended family are forms of strong positive social supports from east culture in reducing the level of depression happening in the urban area.

The change of lifestyle, such as the attitude of individualistic selfishness, and work load demand in the urban area will be reduced by the root of power from the east culture content. Therefore, as Asian individuals, we should be able to optimize the local cultural power potential from the East in strengthening the individual mental health in the urban area and preventing suicide threat.

Consequently, the effort which can be done in reducing the number of suicide cases in the malls is to return to the family power. The strong social support through the nuclear family or the extended family is a powerful fortress as the defence against the emotional ‘tsunami’ from the suicide phenomenon in the malls. Through love, attention, communication, and support from the family members, each individual will always get solutions in dealing with problems and stress factors he/she suffers from in his/her life journey.

Family closeness is a positive factor in doing early detection towards various behaviour changes of the individual members which might lead to a suicide act. Moreover, through good communication in the family, each individual in the family will always get mental recharged and strengthening in his/her mental health.

As known before, the individuals who attempt to commit suicide often do not have anyone to share their feelings with and social support (friends or family) in dealing with their psychological problems. As a result, those individuals will choose an instant way, which is to commit suicide in the mall, as the solution in coping with their anxiety.

In relation to the effort to provide hospital-based social support and suicide prevention towards individuals in the urban area, one of the mental hospitals in Jakarta has a hotline service program by using a special telephone number. This service is a consultation media through telephone to obtain information and psychological assistance in dealing with the problems suffered by the individuals in their life in the urban area.

The effort to promote urban mental health from one of the local mental hospitals is also by conducting an education activity on the role of the family in suicide prevention in the urban area in the routine meeting agenda of “family gathering” and the seminar routine activity through the role of hospital community mental health installation. These activities have been introduced well and become the communication media for the patients, the family, and the common people on the urban mental health knowledge.