If any of you heard, read, or worse yet, saw the online video of suicide by a young man, Arjun Bhardwaj, in Mumbai earlier this week, you would relate more to what I am going to talk about today. Yes, there have been bigger news items for the world to worry about. But, the sad death Arjun met with is singularly the most disturbing incident I’ve come across in months. It makes me sad, it makes me angry, it disturbs me no end, to see yet another young life losing the battle to depression. And it’s worse that despite India having one of the highest rates of suicide in the world owing to depression, there’s an unbelievable lack of awareness and empathy towards those dealing with mental health issues. For all the cheerful exterior I exhibit, I’ve been a patient of depression, and I know how it feels when people brush aside the hollow feeling inside you with a casual, “be positive” advice. You can’t, really can’t blame them, but you’ll surely have yourself to blame if you lose precious days of your life in delaying the process of seeking professional help to deal with suicidal thoughts. As a columnist, I can only write about it and give my two bits of gyan, but the only two people who can really help you, if you feel suicidal, are your counsellor/doctor, and yourself. Today, in this column, I am repeating an open letter that I wrote sometime back to a young man, who had confided having suicidal thoughts in a mail to me. I just hope somewhere, in some small way, it may help an Arjun Bhardwaj for not hitting the news the sad way he did.
Relax, I’m not going to write about who you are and what you wrote in your e-mail to me. In fact, I’m not even going to talk about your life or the problems that are making you feel like ending it. I’ll talk about my life, if that’s fine with you.
When I got your mail, I wrote back that you’re seeking advice from the wrong person. I, and surely many of those reading this right now, would have, at some point in life, got so fed up of problems that we’d have thrown up our hands in the air and said things like, “What’s the use of such a life?” Some of us have had troubled childhood or a super-stressed student life, with unrealistic expectations of us. Some have witnessed domestic abuse to the extent that ‘happy family’ movies seem like mean, teaser, fairy tales. Some want to die because they are not getting married… some because they have got married. And some are in real bad physical pain. The reasons vary. The solution, in our mind, is to end the pain with taking our life. But still we are all here, crowding the earth and adding to the population explosion. Here’s the thing. I don’t know about your problems. To me, my problems seem like the worst. And still I won’t end my life. Here’s why you shouldn’t, either.
1. No matter how bad my problems are, I could still look around and always find someone who envies me. I know this could sound horribly cliched. It’s true, nonetheless. Compare bad marks with having no opportunity to study, or parents who fight, with having no parents… or not being able to marry the girl of your choice with someone who is banging his head on the wall because he did… (take it from me, all girlfriends turn into monster wives!). If you are further deep in the pits, just think of someone in an impoverished, faraway village who’ll happily agree to be in your shoes, just to be able to have food. Suddenly, your mother-in-law saying bitchy things about you doesn’t seem like a good enough to reason to die, does it?
2. No matter how unwanted I may feel at times, someone somewhere will surely be at a loss if I die. Even if it is the 10-year-old on the traffic signal, whose name I don’t know, but he knows that everyday he’s able to sell me packs of pencils I don’t even need by just smiling and saying ‘please’. Unknowingly, each one of us is a part of someone else’s life. It’s an interconnected chain… and therefore it can’t be our arbitrary decision to willy-nilly snap a link. We are not allowed to be that selfish.
3. And finally, no matter how strong my resolve may be to end-it-all, what’s the rush? I don’t want to go without knowing what God may have in store for my future. And these astrologers are bad, they just don’t tell me how exactly my future will pan out. So, I won’t go, yet. Maybe by some stroke of magic, my misery is anyway destined to end a month from now. Maybe I’m destined to be the next superstar (okay, fine. It was just an example, you don’t have to shake your head that vigorously). How can we be in such hurry to opt for the unknown without waiting a little bit more to see what unfolds here? And who knows, maybe life’s even harder up there, and you may find yourself in some remote corner of hell with no food… or Facebook.
It’s irreversible, silly, so put those sleeping pills aside. They anyway cause indigestion. M my friend, don’t think I’m making light of your situation. I can only try to imagine what you are going through. And I’m sure it’s very, very tough. But, my only point is that we’re all living through our respective hells in life, and we’ve kinda got used to it. I’m not sure if it’ll be a good idea to try and trade it for yet another unknown hell. It may just be worse. Just wait it out, things have to get better. Suicide is not the last resort….it’s just not an option… at all.
Sonal Kalra is set to give serious competition to the Yogis and the Maulvis. If only she understood that treating depression comes before dispensing gyan. Mail your calmness tricks to her at sonal.kalra@ hindustantimes.com or on facebook.com/sonalkalraofficial. Follow on twitter at @sonalkalra