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NEW DELHI, INDIA, June 13, 2001: A 1998 case filed by four old men in the small town of Kollam in Kerala stresses the problems facing the elderly. The success of Kerala's primary health programs has resulted in a life expectancy here of 70 years, while the whole of India averages 59. A high percentage of younger Keralites work abroad, leaving their parents alone and uncared for. That is one of the reasons why Kerala is India's suicide hub -- every hour, one person commits suicide and nine people try to kill themselves. Three years ago these four men shocked their relatives as they demanded the legalization of assisted suicide in India. Their lawyer's office was flooded with letters from hundreds of senior citizens who supported them. Mukundan Pillai, one of the four, told the court that the elderly are increasingly discarded by their descendants. The government should either help them live, or it should help them die. Today almost 7 percent of India's citizens are elderly -- 75 million people, and the numbers are rising. A directory compiled in 1995 by the Centre for the Welfare of the Aged listed only 492 old age homes. So The nation needs 217,000 more homes to shelter all the elderly, if the young are no longer going to care for their parents.