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It’s either fight or flight situation

Seven people jumped out of the windows of the seven-storeyed Carlton Towers on Tuesday.

WHAT could have led them to take such an extreme step where fatality was a near-certainty?  While it may seem suicidal, psychiatrists say that the reaction could have been a natural one.  “When a person is faced with a life threatening situation, he or she would react in two ways – fight or flight. In this situation, there was nothing they could fight,” said Dr B N Gangadhar, Medical Superintendent of Nimhans. He added that usually such cases the response is involuntary and this is irrespective of their education. 

Dr Bhupindra Chaudhry, consultant psychiatrist, Manipal Hospital said some people who are anxious by nature would usually take such an extreme step. “While panic is a response to such situations, common sense does not prevail in certain cases resulting in people resorting to such an act,” he said. 

Both the psychiatrists stressed that life skill training should be inculcated at school level itself. “Everyone should have some kind of basic army training, where people are trained to remain calm and retain presence of mind in the dangerous situations. The HRD Ministry should seriously consider introducing this in school level,” said Dr Gangadhar. 

Dr Chaudhry said that people who have faced such situations are likely to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. He said that some patients may even suffer from acute stress disorder with the symptoms being disturbed sleep, abnormal behaviour and extreme anxiety.

Workmen’s compensation

The Labour department is initiating steps to provide the Workmen’s Compensation to those who lost their lives at Carlton Towers on Tuesday, Labour Minister B N Bache Gowda said on Wednesday. As per the the Workmen’s Compensation Law, the employer has to pay compensation for the death of employees in any fatal accident. 

The amount of compensation will be calculated based on the victim’s salary and the nature of the accident. Nine people working in different companies housed in the multi-storeyed building died in the accident. Gowda, who paid a visit to Manipal Hospital, said he has directed the department officials to ensure that the compensation is provided the victims’ families at the earliest.

The department will take strict action if the employers refuse to pay compensation. He also said the owner of the building has obtained licence as required under the Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments Act.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 24th February, 2010)

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