Former BARC scientist found dead at home

*Suicide note cites prolonged illness; she had been suffering from irritable bowel syndrome for 20 years

A former Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) scientist committed suicide at her residence near BARC's Deonar campus on Friday. Dr Uma Narsimha Rao, 63, is believed to have consumed an overdose of sleeping pills to end her life. A suicide note was found in the house and Rao may have taken the step as she was frustrated by prolonged illness, investigators said.

Rao used to stay alone in a flat on the 10 th floor of Runwal Centre near BARC. Her domestic help, Madri Sushila (38), worked in the house from 8am to 10pm. She had been suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for 20 years and the problem often gave her acute headaches.

Rao's husband, a BARC scientist, died 10 years ago after a heart attack. Her elder son Debasish (40) stays in the US while her younger son Anurag, an entertainment industry professional, stays with his family in Astha Building behind BARC.

Rao worked with BARC's Food Technology and Cell Biology division and later served in the media relations team. She also served as the president of the Women Scientists' Association of India.

As per Sushila's statement, on Thursday night Rao gave the house keys to her and asked her to report early the next day as she had to visit a doctor. Sushila reported for work at 8.15am and thought Rao was asleep. After repeated calls, when Rao did not wake up, Sushila informed Anurag who reportedly called the family doctor who declared Rao dead. Anurag then informed the police who sent Rao's body for post mortem.

A letter written in English was found on a chair near the scientist's body. "Rao had written a suicide letter which said that she was frustrated and depressed due to her illness and did not wish to live any longer. She has also written that it was completely her decision to commit suicide and blamed no one for her act," Jalinder Khandagle, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Trombay division), said.

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