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Mass suicide in Delhi's Burari: Was Bhatia family suffering from shared psychotic disorder?
The suspected mass suicide case of the Bhatia family members – who were held as nice, sober and helpful people by the neighbours and other acquaintances – in Delhi shook the society. All the 11 members had been found mysteriously dead at Burari locality in New Delhi on Sunday.

The police and the medical practitioners suspect that it could be a case of chronic 'shared psychotic disorder'. It was a well bonded family with the members mostly keeping to themselves and never talking about their personal matters to others. Some diary entries of the primary case of the psychotic disorder have also indicated the deluded mental state or mental health problem.

However, the relatives of the Bhatia family have dismissed it as a case of mass suicide and have alleged that the family was killed.

It becomes pertinent to know that the shared psychotic disorder takes two or more people to happen in which one could be the primary case suffering from a mental health disorder or delusion and the others in the group are often struggling with shared psychotic disorder. The studies report that others also develop symptoms of the primary's mental health disorder while living in close contact with strong bonding.

Over a prolonged period of time, when the primary case often talks about his or her delusion as true and others get influenced and they too get deluded. However, if others distance themselves from the primary case, they start recovering.

In other words, suffers of the shared psychotic disorder have delusions that mirror the mental health symptoms of the primary case who is close to them. In closed societies, it is almost impossible to diagnose shared psychotic disorder because suffers tend to get further isolated and rarely talk to outsiders about their delusion and be ready to seek treatment.

According to psychiatrists, when untreated, shared psychotic disorder can become chronic and can lead to group suicide. However, once revealed and detected, the separation of primary case from others is recommended. One-on-one intensive counselling and family therapy can be helpful. The use of sedatives or antidepressants only provides short and temporary relief in such cases.

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