Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why suicide....

It was with utter shock and sadness today that I took the news of a college senior who committed suicide ... We could be passed as friends, a little more than acquaintances definitely.. The little moments I remember of having spent together are full of the most silly PJs and lots and lots of carefree laughter...
The smiling face refuses to fade, the happy tone... O it's so shocking...

Why??? What sort of moment it would be when a lively youth is so depressed to shed away the urge of giving in to the utter ecstacy of life? I only hope and request that if anyone comes to such a desperate point of misfortune, simply hang on... Somewhere there, beyond your knowledge, would definitely be someone who thinks of you and would be more than willing to listen out... Just hang on...

Here's a number in Ahmedabad, a suicide helpline service which simply talks to people on the verge of commiting suicide...
SAATH- 079 26305544

I wrote an article in Education Times, Ahmedabad when the high rates of suicides after (or before the board exams) shocked and saddened me greatly. I reproduce the same below....

Desperate Measures

You do not get a life to give it up…

After having done with the board exams, when all students are enjoying their summer vacation, a few individuals who gave up too easily to the mounting exam pressure, now linger as a distant, painful memory. With the rate of suicides committed by young students rising to alarming levels in the city, it’s time to deal with this sudden social upheaval urgently. The hype created by the competition crazy and mark maniac exam system may shake the students, however, they should understand that no ‘reason’ cannot be a reason enough to give up on life.

Disturbed by the alarming rates of suicide cases in the city, Mrs. Anju Sheth established SAATH in 1998. SAATH is an NGO, which provides support and counsel to people with suicidal thoughts. Anju Sheth opines that majority of suicides by the youth are a result of impulsive behavior triggered by loneliness, lack of support or the complete loss of hope. Hence, it’s extremely important to patiently listen to whatever your child, friend or student, without being judgmental. SAATH functions by ‘Listening Therapy’ wherein trained volunteers lend a patient ear to the caller. Many a times, the conversation is active on the callers’ side and passive on the listener’s side. Sometimes, if a person with depressing/suicidal thoughts simply gets to vent off the pent up feelings, he might get a reason enough to think on positive lines and give up suicidal thoughts.

Petrified by the fear of consequences following a failure and lack of awareness, students fail to see many different career choices available, many students and parents give up too easily and fall prey to dejection, opines Nimrat Singh, a career counselor.

Dr. Khushnuma Banaji, a professor of Psychology in St. Xavier’s College opines that there’s no knowing when the threshold levels of stress may be crossed. Many a times, very good students find it difficult to accept that they are unable to cope up. They live in state of turmoil, and fake up normal behavior to live up to the fa├žade of being a bright student. Her colleague, Prof. Ami Mehra informs that some tell tale signs like the lack of eye contact while talking, the unwillingness to carry on discussions, sudden irritation, restlessness or a slouching body posture, if noticed, should not be ignored.

Friends, who spend a lot of time with the concerned person, can easily detect such signs. Hence a huge responsibility lies on the peers to listen to their friend’s fears, provide a firm support and work towards sensible solutions. If dealt understandingly by peers, they can also be convinced to share their feelings with parents as well as to see a professional counselor.

It is unfortunate that depression, which is perhaps as normal an illness as common cold is wrongly perceived as a taboo and dealt with in a clandestine manner in the society. Many a times, family members try to sort such situations by themselves without seeking the help of counselors or psychiatrists.

Mrs. Anju Sheth (SAATH) opines that sometimes, medical assistance becomes necessary. There is a need of increasing the awareness that to seek the help of a counselor is only another way of taking care of yourself, which no one has a right to look down upon.

Rita Shah*, who gave her 12th Arts exam this year misses her close friend who committed suicide a few months back. All she can say about her friend’s drastic decision is that there was no reason for her to escape away like this…

Life is beautiful and sooner or later people agree on this fact.

* Name changed

In case someone shows suicidal tendancies

Negate the feelings expressed
Mock/ridicule whatever is said
Avoid stereotype assurances
Emphasize on the shortcomings
Attach excessive importance to passing/good marks

Listen patiently
Encourage positive thoughts
Encourage meditation
Indulge in recreational activities, hobbies
Sign in a different short-term classes- language, public speaking, etc.
Be vocal about your feelings
Generate alternate career options
Get medical assistance/counseling if required

SAATH-079 26305544

- Gauri V. Gharpure