Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst millennials and Gen-Z in the world. In India, over 160k+ people lost their lives to suicide in 2021. Yet, most of us don’t want to even acknowledge this threat, leave alone address it.
September is observed as suicide prevention month across many Western countries, but India is yet to recognise the importance of mental health. Here is what I learnt after losing two people I loved to suicide.
Break the chain
I was six years old when my mother set herself on fire. Even though I was so young, I recalled the many, many times she had spoken of dying by suicide, usually when she was in a bad mood. I also remembered that nobody paid attention to these warning signals. ‘She must just be saying it in anger,’ everyone thought, until her thoughts became a reality.
Consumed by anger against the people who had allowed my mother to take her life, I grew up to be a short-tempered, cold, aggressive, and impulsive individual. It was a coping mechanism for the grief, but I had no idea that that it was impacting my mental health until I suffered another loss to suicide 20 years later. I sought professional help and have now come to terms with these losses, but it has been a long, hard road to this point.
Suicide doesn’t kill just one person. It severely impacts the people around them. In some cases, it destroys mental health. This leads to a chain reaction of mental disturbances. This chain must be broken and here’s how to do it:
Learn to listen
Whenever any celeb takes her or his life by suicide, the world howls about ‘suicide and mental health’. So, it is bizarre that people turn deaf when someone they know tries to discuss their mental state.
If I could go back in time, I hear my mom out. Why did she speak of killing herself most often when she was angry? The regret of if-onlys makes life heavy for people who were close to those who died by suicide. So, please listen while there is time.
Understand so you can act
Invest some time into understanding the how, what, why, and when of their suicidal triggers. Then, either take them for psychiatric help, or alert their close ones, or inform suicide control boards. Only empathy will help them. Not sympathy.
Finally, permanently register in your head that nobody talks about taking their life for ‘attention’ or just randomly. Do not ignore even the smallest of signs when it comes to anyone’s mental health. Period.
Dharmesh Dave is a brand communications professional.
I Say Chaps is a column that allows passionate, creative people a platform to have their say.
From HT Brunch, September 24, 2022
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