It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, just like any other day. With the lockdown, there seems to be no visible difference between weekdays and weekends. As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, a news app notification popped up: Sushant Singh Rajput found hanging in his Bandra home. In a few hours, my social media feed was brimming with posts on mental health and how our support is crucial for someone going through depression.
A suicide, moreover a celebrity’s, shook our conscience and made the issue of mental health a topic of living room discussions. News anchors were encouraging viewers to check on their family members and friends. Milind Deora, a politician, came out with his own story of depression. With this turn, I am glad mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves. Whether it is limited to urban households is another topic I wish to write on.
Now, what exactly is suicide? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as “the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally”. Yes, voluntarily and intentionally. We were all created with a will to live. Just ask someone who’s on their deathbed. They will tell you how scared they are and their desire to live increases.
People who attempt or die by suicide might have reached a point where they are willing to take their own life. Please don’t take me at my word because none of us would be able to comprehend what’s going on in the mind of someone who has suicidal thoughts.
As per a newspaper report, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows a tragic figure of 1.34 lakh individuals who died by suicide in India in 2018. Anecdotal figures are as high as 2.3 lakh (NCRB data may be on the lower side as suicides are often under-reported, having been criminal offences till 2017) while attempted suicide figures could be five times that.
But if you haven’t faced a mental health issue, what can you do? Chaitali Ipar, a therapist, says, “We are only awakened about mental health when someone ends their lives. You may not know they are struggling, but people will approach you if you stop shaming their failures.” This made me introspect my behaviour since my school days. How have I been to people around me? Have I mistreated any of my classmates, stereotyped a colleague or sidelined someone I knew was struggling? As I’m in my “pause and reflect” mode, here’s a checklist to examine our behaviour:
Have you ever,
I am guilty of a few. I am sure many of us are. We might have mistreated someone who we didn’t know was struggling and pushed them to the brink of depression. I remember how I would have my lunch alone in our bustling college canteen, knowing I was lonely. Thankfully, I could come home to parents who understood me and I am way past that.
I hope we can introspect our behaviour and try apologising to the person who must have been wounded. I hope we reach out to those around us (virtually for now) because a short message won’t hurt us. It only takes a kind-hearted gesture to show others that help is just around the corner.