When someone who seems to have it all commits suicide, it sends shock waves throughout society. Is it possible for someone to appear just fine on the outside, but feel so desperate inside that they feel they cannot go on living? Questions pound through our minds – could someone have seen it coming? Was there anything people around could have done? And then naturally we move on to wondering if our own loved ones and the people we live and work with could also be struggling, unknown to us.
The facts. According to the WHO, there is one death by suicide every 40 seconds, and more lives are lost from suicide than from war and homicide together. India has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. In contrast to many other countries, the rates are higher among young people. For every completed suicide there is a much larger incidence of suicidal attempts. The loss of a young life to suicide is an unbelievable waste of potential, not to mention the heartache it leaves behind…
Suicide is a desperate cry for help. It is not an act of cowardice. The trigger could be failure in studies or work, a broken relationship, harassment, shame or humiliation, underlying depression, financial or health worries. But underneath it is a person who, when faced with problems, does not feel able to overcome the problems and sees no possible way out. The truth is, there IS always a way out, a way in which the difficulty can be reduced if not resolved. If the person would only reach out for help, they would be able to see this. And a life could be saved.
Suicide is preventable. All it takes is for people around to notice, show concern and lead them to a source of help. Friends, colleagues, managers, parents, teachers, neighbours or relatives could play this role. But often we’re worried about intruding, or about putting the idea into people’s heads. The worst thing one can do is to stay silent. Instead, speak up, listen and direct them to a source of help.
Talk about it. If there is one good thing that can emerge when someone in the public eye takes their own life, it is that it re-opens the dialogue about suicide. If that paves the way for discussions at home, in the workplace, at school or college or among friends; if it gives someone the courage to speak up about what they are going through or motivates someone to be more supportive to others who are depressed, then this sad event would have served a purpose.
We can create safe spaces for people to talk, share how they are really feeling and get the help they need.
There IS a light at the end of that tunnel. Let’s help people find it.