Last week, a girl from Delhi sent a photo to The Artidote, a social media community that offers support and a space to heal through art. The 20-year-old posted a photo of herself and spoke of her plan to kill herself because she was pregnant with a child that wasn’t her boyfriend’s and didn’t want to bring shame to her family.
Following her post on Snapchat, people from across the globe took to dissuading her from taking the extreme step. She was asked to speak to her family, with people sending her words of encouragement. Speaking to HT City, the girl who chose to remain anonymous, explained why she had decided to end her life, and how the warmth of strangers gave her the strength to change her decision.
People from places such as Australia, Kuwait, and South Africa responded to the girl’s snap telling her to “stay strong”, “discuss the issue with someone”, and even shared their Snapchat IDs for her to get in touch personally. It was their response that encouraged her to confide in her family.
“I come from a Punjabi family and premarital sex and pregnancy are a huge deal,” she says, adding, “I didn’t think I’d change my mind but the empathy of people who showed support made me reconsider my decision to overdose. I felt protected, loved, cared for. Like my life mattered,” she says. “One of the snaps that wasn’t posted was from a girl from Karachi on her prayer mat, praying for me. And in all honesty, that one snap made all the difference. It made me feel strong, and I felt like I could tell my family if I could confide in strangers.”
She has now undergone the abortion procedure and is healing under her mother’s love and care. “My mother was shocked but she’s been here for me. My father still doesn’t know and I hope he never finds out,” she says.
Jovanny Varela, the moderator of The Artidote, says that the community had received a similar snap in the past and its reaction was the same. “The warm reaction was a result of the wonderfully supportive and empathetic people on the community. The internet can be a vicious place but it does have some heartwarming moments. With so much hatred, intolerance and violence covering world news recently, this is a grain-of-sand positive story that restores my faith in our shared, fragile humanity.”
Sameer Malhotra, senior consultant psychiatrist says that in such a situation, the best thing to do is to reach out to your family. “I’m not in favour of sharing something so personal online. You never know how people may respond on the internet and one negative response can break things. Though your family may not understand in the beginning, they will always be there for you. Don’t do anything impulsive, talk to them,” he adds.