Soap operas that show women killing themselves are encouraging female viewers in the southern Indian state of Kerala to act on their suicidal impulses, a study shows. The soaps revolve around conflicts between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, and the intrigues and conspiracies of a 'typical' Indian family. A report by the Kerala branch of the Indian Psychiatric Society said interviews with women who had tried to take their lives showed many attempts were sparked by a favourite character in a television serial committing suicide. 'These women are already depressed and frustrated. They identify with the problems and emotions of the women in these soaps and, if the character ends her life, they decide to opt for the same solution,' said V. Satish, senior psychiatrist at the Government Medical College in Kottayam in Kerala. Dr Satish said a suicide prevention clinic was set up at his hospital in 2002 and it was his interviews with the 320 women who had attempted suicide since then that exposed the link. The most popular soap is Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (Because the Mother-in-Law was once the Daughter-in-Law), watched by millions but predominantly by middle-class women. 'The women in these soaps often display raw, naked emotions, and while it is nonsense to more sophisticated people, to many ordinary housewives these emotions are very real,' Dr Satish said. 'The visual impact is enough to provide the trigger for a suicide attempt.' Kerala, with a population of 33 million, has consistently topped India's suicide rankings, with about 26 people killing themselves every day, three times the national average. The Indian branch of the International Association for Suicide Prevention has urged television soap producers not to show women committing suicide so often. 'Some of them have agreed to try to be more creative in showing women tackling their difficulties in ways other than suicide,' said S. Radhakrishnan, a doctor who worked on the study.