THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Meera (name changed) was all set to meet the person she had seen on a dating app after a year of being in contact. She entered a train to Kanyakumari from Thiruvananthapuram Central, as decided. But what awaited her was a man over 70 years old. Ramesh (name changed) told her that he was her date. In disbelief at her own folly, she tried committing suicide by jumping from the train.
“Though Meera survived the suicide attempt with minor injuries, she underwent severe depression,” said Dr Arun B Nair, psychiatrist at Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram. Meera is not the sole victim who had to deal with depression as a result of dating apps. As per Dr Arun, such cases began to arise in 2016 when dating apps gained popularity in the city.
“In 2016, I dealt with two depression cases resulting from the use of dating apps. In 2017, it increased to six and till date this year, I’ve dealt with over 10 such cases,” said Arun. Social media and dating apps allow the user to remain anonymous. This also allows trollers and frauds to mask themselves and trick people online. Psychiatrists reveal that men are usually exploited on dating apps for financial benefits. Sharing an incident wherein an engineering student fell prey to financial fraud over a dating app, Dr Arun said: “Midhun (name changed), an introvert, met someone on a dating app.
After establishing trust, the person asked Midhun for money. As he was unable to deliver the money in person, he shared his debit card number and PIN with the person. Midhun didn’t lose a large amount of money, but such apps can result in financial exploitation to a great extent,” said Dr Arun.
Dr Kiran Kumar S, psychiatrist at the Mental Health Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, said: “Though I have not come across teenagers becoming prey to dating apps, similar cases on social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram are on the rise.” According to him, the children who have social phobias or inhibitions are easily lured to the virtual world. “Social media has always had loopholes before. But, the rise of anxiety and depression-related cases are recent.”
Not just youngsters, homemakers are an easy prey too, said psychologist Vidhya Jayaraj.
“The percentage of people getting help for anxiety and depression is on the rise. It is only at the later stages of counselling the victims reveal being cheated on such apps,” she said.