2-hour suicide drama in South Mumbai highrise; woman slits wrist, tries to jump off building terrace

Published: 28 December, 2013 06:42 IST | Bipin Kokate and Chetna Sadadekar |

Woman paced up and down the parapet of a Khetwadi building and even slit her wrists; just as she was about to jump, a friend managed to pull her back

In a nail-biting drama that brought life in a whole neighbourhood to a screeching halt, a 26-year-old woman attempted suicide from the terrace parapet of a 15-storey building. The will-she-won’t-she suspense continued for two hours, as she was seen walking along the parapet, weeping furiously, slitting her wrists, alternately standing and crouching, and threatening to take the plunge before a friend finally arrived at the terrace, lunged for her and brought her down from the ledge in the nick of time, with some help from the cops.

The visibly distraught woman, identified as Sonia Chowdhury, on the parapet of the 15-storey Shreepati Castle building in Khetwadi

The drama unfolded on the terrace of Shreepati Castle, a ground plus 15-storey structure in lane number 9 of Khetwadi. Residents of this building were clueless of what was happening overhead, till alarmed neighbours started ringing up in panic to alert them that a visibly distraught woman was preparing to jump off the building. They soon discovered that a rank stranger was attempting to take her life in their building.

The woman walks along the parapet, sending collective gasps through the crowds that had gathered below, bringing life in the neighbourhood to a standstill. Pics/Bipin Kokate

The woman, identified as Sonia Gopal Chowdhury, is a resident of Nallasopara, but somehow managed to make her way to the terrace. The young woman’s brush with death brought daily life to a standstill in the area. Locals crowded around the building, whipping out their phones to capture all the action. Bus drivers and vehicles passing by on Sardar Vallabhai Patel Road stopped their vehicles, leading to traffic chaos.

3 pm
26-year-old Sonia Gopal Chowdhury could be seen standing at the edge of the terrace of the 15-storey building, preparing for a jump. She had entered the building less than an hour earlier at 2.15 pm and had asked the liftman to take her to the seventh floor, which houses an unoccupied flat. Chandrakant S, the liftman, said, “I had never seen this lady before.

There are private tuitions held in our building and I thought she might have come there. She asked me to take her to the seventh floor. After dropping her I realised that no one stays on that floor. I immediately went up to see where she was, but did not find her on that floor. I assumed that she had asked for the wrong floor and had later used the stairs to get to the correct flat. I went to the ground floor and resumed my duties.”

3:10 pm
Chaos erupted in the vicinity, as more and more people gathered to watch the drama unfold. The liftman soon realised that something was amiss. He added, “After half an hour or so, people from the neighbouring building came down to ours and told us that a girl was seen perched on the terrace parapet who was weeping.” A resident of the building, Deepak Mistry, recalled, “We have never seen this girl in this building. I was out and when I went near the building I saw a huge crowd had gathered. Learning what had happened, I went up immediately along with others.

We saw her standing on the parapet wall.Panic mounted as the woman was seen slitting her wrists. Word spread like wildfire and the police and fire brigade were called to the spot. The crowds grew in size, causing severe traffic jams and delaying the arrival of the rescue teams. Meanwhile, residents and members of the rescue team found her handbag on the terrace, in which they found her mobile phone. They found that the last-dialled phone number had been called thrice. Mistry said, “We called on the number and explained the situation to the man who answered. He said he would reach the spot as soon as possible.”

3:35 pm
The team from the fire brigade and police departments started using a rescue ladder to reach the woman. Seeing them approach, she started walking away, along the ledge. Residents who had rushed up to the terrace tried to convince her to climb down from the ledge, assuring her that her demands, whatever they were, would be met.

The distraught woman however threatened to take the plunge if anyone approached her. Alarm rose when the residents spotted blood streaming from her wrists. Mistry said, “We tried to convince her, telling her that she would get whatever she wanted if she came down, but she warned us not to come closer, so we all stayed away.”

3:45 pm
She was on the ledge, standing up, crouching, looking down, and contemplating her next move. Meanwhile, the friend who had been called by the residents had reached the spot. Mistry said, “I was there upstairs and we all were baffled, as she was bleeding and we had said that if the boy came there, she would climb down. After he came, he promised to do her bidding if she came down. But she didn’t listen to him, and kept standing at the edge.”

4 pm
The drama reached a climax when she tried to jump, sending a collective gasp through the crowds that had gathered. Her friend, however, acted promptly, lunging for her at the nick of time. He held her back and brought her down. Immediately, the police rushed to help and she was then taken to the hospital.”

Woman undergoing counselling
At the time of going to press, the police was still trying to figure out the details of the case and ascertain what drove the woman to take the step. The cops revealed that no statement had yet been taken, as the woman was undergoing psychological counselling. However, they were recording statements of eyewitnesses. They also asked the woman’s friend to accompany them to the police station for enquiries.

Ajit Surve, senior inspector of DB Marg police station, said, “She is still being treated in the hospital and so we haven’t been able to record her complete statement. However, doctors have informed us that she is in severe mental stress and is not in a state to give a statement. It is still unclear how she reached the area, as the residents of the building claimed that she does not live there. We will find out once she is normal.” 

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