Dubai: At least 37 Indian nationals committed suicide in six of the seven emirates of the UAE in the first half of 2014, latest figures from the Indian consulate in Dubai show.
These suicides were reported from Dubai and the Northern Emirates comprising Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm al-Quuwain and Ras al-Khaimah. These, along with Abu Dhabi, comprise the United Arab Emirates which is home to around two million expatriate Indians.
At least 700 suicides were reported among Indians from 2007 to last year. It was unclear how many were the due to the burden of debts from unpaid loans or other financial stress, The National reported.
Aid workers said the fear of social humiliation due to debt and harassment from illegal private money lenders could drive middle-class Indian families to take extreme steps.
Malayalam movie producer Santosh Kumar smothered his daughter Gauri, 9, to death this week before he and his wife Manju Menon commited suicide by slitting their wrists in their Dubai apartment following serious financial problems.
Their bodies were found after police broke into their flat in Dubai Tuesday. Relatives raised the alarm as they had not seen the family since July 8.
"When will a person be desperate enough to commit suicide -- if he has no money to run the house, cannot admit this to friends and family, and does not have money for school fees," Sreedharan Prasad, a coordinator of the Indian charity Sevanam in Ras al-Khaimah, was quoted as saying.
"If they come to us we can help but they don't reach out to the right people. They come to us if the father goes to jail for bounced cheques and the family cannot meet daily expenses," he said.
Prasad said he was recently approached by a family after the wife's visa expired but her passport was being held by a money lender as a guarantee for a loan.
Indian associations in the UAE say they ask families to approach the police or consulate in such cases.
He said some people were forced to sign off property or write blank cheques by illegal money lenders.
The Indian consulate and the Indian Community Welfare Committee (ICWC) have provided financial help in more than 500 cases since 2011, paying school fees, medical expenses and buying necessities when businesses have failed, the report said.