“Life is not worth living!”
A young aspirant of IIT took her life because she did not qualify in the entrance examinations. She made news a few weeks ago and she was from a coaching centre from Kota. Why did she do that?
A boy of 9th Std ended his life because he was facing constant harassment from his class teacher who also abused him verbally after throwing the copy at his face by saying, ‘You are a useless soul, you will never achieve anything in life, you are a burden on this earth.”
A young girl of first year college decided to drink poison when she realised that her boyfriend was cheating on her and she was pregnant.
A love struck young couple decided a joint suicide pact after they eloped but was being hunted by the police sent by their parents who vehemently opposed the alliance.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2014 states suicide as the largest cause of death among the youth in the age group of 14 to 30 years- that is -41%. This means that young ones in this age category die more due to self decision in comparison to illness or injury or accidents. In 2008 an India Today survey quoted teen suicides in India as the highest in the world! They also stated that ‘the highest percentage of suicides occurred between the months of March and July during and after examinations’. That sent alarm bells ringing among the nation and society. Contemporary India needs to wake up and take it seriously. By the way, Maharashtra tops in percentage of overall suicides in the country with 12.4% followed by Tamil Nadu with 12.2% according to the NCRB report of 2014.
Are we killing our children unknowingly, unconsciously, with all good intentions and how are we doing that?
The other question that haunts us is why do young minds full of life and enthusiasm snuff out their existence and at what point?
You would generally think youngsters would be full of energy ‘with stars in their eyes and fire in their belly’ as the saying goes. Yes, that is how we love to see them and admire them for it. But what goes wrong with a large percentage of young ones who decide that life is not worth it or they are not worth living life and snuff it out voluntarily? This is a major question and every parent needs to educate themselves on this subject seriously.
Life is precious you agree. Life is a gift of God you say. Life is beautiful. At what point does it become ugly, a burden, hellish, and just not worth it?
The stigma on mental illness weighs heavily on Indian society. Mental illness does not mean being ‘stark mad’ as shown in Bollywood movies. The movie images have done tremendous damage in promoting wrong notions of illness. We have a tough time explaining the meaning of depression and other forms of disorders to people and many times face stiff resistance. In rural areas mental illness is still attributed to ghosts, evil spirits and other superstitious beliefs.
For most people when they notice something amiss in their children they are likely to blame the moral character or the personality of the child. They are likely to attribute it to their laziness, carelessness, disrespect, indiscipline, learnt bad behaviour, peer group influence, etc’. Most people do not understand conditions such as ‘stress, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, clinical depression, obsessions, compulsions, emotionality, sensitivity, introversion, immaturity and many other diverse range of human psychological conditions’.
A shocked mother came to me to understand the reasons why her young girl of high school committed suicide, although she behaved normally at home and nothing seemed grossly wrong. On deeper questioning we realised that there were subtle changes in her behaviour for some time, such as withdrawing from parents, not sharing information, locking her room and closing her-self in with excuses of studying. But she would always put up a smile with her parents. We could have saved a life we realised with regret and deep sorrow.
Another mother herself went into severe depression and guilt because she felt she could have saved her daughter, as she had noticed some signs of distress, but had not sought timely professional help. She could never forgive herself for her blunder in denying the treatment. She blamed her husband for his lack of support with whom she had shared her concerns but who chose to ignore it. She had realised that her girl was involved with a guy, was in trouble and was losing interest in studies.
The signs of disturbance can subtle and gross. Any change in behaviour over a period of time should be noted seriously. Aggressive fights, tantrums, stealing, lying, falling grades, playing truant, withdrawing from people, growing secrecy, day dreaming, lack of rapport with parents all could tell us that all is not well. Families with histories of mental illness have to be doubly careful with their children. Once, parents feel that their methods of discipline are not showing results, they should seek professional help. Building strong and trusting bonds with the child, understanding the personality, communicating on all issues, fair values, a balanced attitude towards life, a good sense of psychological aspects, will go a long way in promoting healthy living and preventing disaster.
Suicide is the end of the spectrum of mental disorders and hence represents the darkest shade of grey – black.