Sixty one-year-old Sugathan, who lived in the UAE for 37 years, was found dead in Fujairah. Hundreds of Indians bid farewell to the prominent social worker on Sunday, six days after his body was discovered.
With the police recording it as a case of suicide, the death of V. Sugathan, who used to be part of an awareness campaign against suicide, came as a blow to the anti-suicide efforts of several Indian community organisations, especially the one he was part of.
Sixty one-year-old Sugathan had lived in the UAE for 37 years, working as an X-ray technician at the Preventive Medicine Department of the Ministry of Health, in Sharjah. He was the secretary of the Sharjah unit of Sevanam, an Indian community association registered with the Indian Consulate in Dubai. Last year, the ministry had honoured him for his professional service while the Indian community honoured his social service.
Sugathan went to the department on Sunday but took leave and left for Fujairah in his car. His mobile reportedly went unreachable after he rang up home from Fujairah. Later, on Monday, his body was found hanging in the site of a building under construction in Masafi. He hanged himself by using a rope bought from a supermarket in Dibba and the bill for the purchase was found in his pocket.
Some of his friends cited financial woes as the main reason for his suicide while some others have not ruled out certain family issues.
Several Indians, especially those from the state of Kerala, attended the funeral held at the premises of the electric crematorium in Jebel Ali, Dubai.
“He was a very important person for us. We are sad that this has happened after our association pitched in to solve his financial problems, said KS Vachaspati, the general secretary of Sevanam, UAE.
“He never disclosed such matters to any of us. We came to know about it just a few days ago and we immediately extended our helping hands. I think he was upset that everyone came to know about his issues,” he said.
Apparently, Sugathan had borrowed money from private individuals. Though he had settled most of those dealings, it is suspected that he was pestered by some of them.
He had taken a lot of initiatives in solving the issues faced by people in distress and those who had suicidal tendencies.
“Both of us have worked together on various cases and helped people,” said Vachaspati.
Sugathan also campaigned against high interest rates of money lenders who haunt their creditors, a reason cited in many Indians’ suicide cases.
His death came as a setback to the efforts of more than a dozen Indian welfare groups who had recently united to launch anti-suicide awareness campaigns.
S Prasad, community welfare convenor of Sevanam in Ras Al Khaimah said Sugathan was one of the pillars of the association that was formed 10 years ago. “From that day till his death, he was dedicated to social work in the community. His death is a major loss to our association and a big blow to our efforts against suicide,” said Prasad.