Suicides in India Prompt One State to Consider Prescriptions for Alcohol

Wide angle shot of a restaurant interior of the bar counter and shelves of alcohol behind the bar.
Getty Images

Kerala, India, is considering the introduction of alcohol on prescription after two men took their life over the weekend after reportedly suffering withdrawal symptoms, a product of alcohol purchase bans passed to impose a Chinese coronavirus quarantine.

One of the men, 32-year-old Suneesh, jumped into the river after experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

“Suneesh was showing withdrawal symptoms,” police said in a statement. “A complaint in this regard says that he left home on Saturday night and jumped into the river. His body was recovered on Sunday.”

The other man, a 34-year-old barbershop worker called Noufal, allegedly drank after-shave lotion after also experiencing intolerable withdrawal symptoms for two days. “His family said that he drunk the after-shave lotion after finding it difficult to get liquor,” police said.

As a result of the two suicides, local authorities are now mulling the possibility of offering alcohol on prescription and have even asked their excise department to provide free treatment at addiction centers.

The state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirmed that they are considering selling alcohol online to avoid possible social disturbances. However, such measures were strongly criticized by the state chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), who argued it did not constitute a scientific treatment.

“Scientific treatment should be given to those who have alcohol withdrawal symptoms,” the IMA said in a statement. “It can be treated at home or in hospitals with medicines. It is not scientifically acceptable to offer alcohol to such people instead.”

“Writing a liquor prescription can result in the cancellation of the right to treatment,” they added. “We have brought it to the notice of the Chief Minister.”

On March 21, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide quarantine, the largest single lockdown effort worldwide. The decision has already led to major unrest around the country. In the capital of Dehli, thousands of desperate daily-wage workers crowded the streets in an attempt to reach villages and rural areas where they may be able to find jobs and income.

Disturbing footage has emerged around the country of security forces physically assaulting citizens found violating lockdown measures, beating them with sticks or humiliating them by making them perform squats, sit-ups, and push-ups.

According to the latest figures, Indian health authorities have recorded 1,071 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, from which 29 people have died and 100 have made a full recovery.

Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.