When losing the election can also cost you your sanity

When losing the election can also cost you your sanity
Marzoeki Mahdi hospital gears up to accommodate failing MP candidates who suffer from depression.

Shortly after Indonesia's general election campaign started on March 16, a man turned up at the Marzoeki Mahdi Hospital here to be treated for depression.

He told doctors he could not bear to see or be near the party flags and posters of candidates that had gone up on trees and along the roads of this city, some 80km south of Jakarta.

They reminded him of the trauma he had suffered in 2009, when he lost not only his bid for a national Parliament seat but also his house and a fortune in campaign spending.

The man was hospitalised for a month, head nurse Siti Noor Triana told The Straits Times.

"He lashed out at anyone who told him he was a patient. He kept saying he had just had an important meeting on some proposed draft Bill. He thought he was an MP," she recalled.

The man cannot be named for reasons of patient confidentiality.

With vote-counting for Wednesday's election under way and results starting to trickle in, several mental health institutions, including this hospital, are anticipating similar election-related trauma cases.

More than 200,000 candidates from 12 national parties are vying for nearly 20,000 seats - in the 560-seat national Parliament, 33 provincial and 497 district and city assemblies, and also the 132-seat regional representative council in Jakarta. The failure rate will be very high.

In what is believed to be the first such case this year, a provincial assembly candidate from Sinarancang village in West Java sought help from a local spiritual leader on Thursday after finding out he had won very few votes.

TV footage showed Mr Witarsa, still wearing his Democratic Party jacket, breaking into tears as the cleric doused him with water and recited a prayer for him.

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