Let Your Light Shine Brighter

“There was a moment in my life when I really wanted to kill myself. And there was one other moment when I was close to that. . . . But even in my most jaded times, I had some hope.”  Gerard Way

The past week has had the media in a frenzy trying to sap every angle to a celebrity suicide that rocked the TV world. Sound bytes crept in from every crack in the woodwork. There were cries of outrage, sympathy, guilt and fear as well as profound proclamations. Suicides are rising among the young adults. Be it students like Rohith Vemulla, expelled for a tiff resorted to the worst. Mohammed Hilal who after learning that he had failed in his favourite subject, jumped into the river or Jiah Khan and several others.

The number of suicides in India, itself is alarming.  The country has one of the world’s highest rate of suicides between people of 15 years and 29 years. Every year, approx 30 – 40 people per 100,000 Indians aged between 15 – 29 commit suicide, accounting for a third of all suicides in the country.

Scrolling the various timelines and stories on the web, we see stories denouncing the youngsters as ‘weak’. Some said, the young can’t handle success. Others said, it’s the pressure to stay on top, financial failures, frustrated ambitions yet others on an intimate relationship crisis or threats to the sense of self-esteem. The debates continue.

But the question that bothers everyone is ‘What drives suicide?”

Psychologists suggest, the cause of a suicide is more complicated than a recent painful event – the break-up of a relationship or the loss of a job, a stressful occupation or encountering discrimination. Social conditions alone do not explain a suicide. People who appear to become suicidal in response to such events are battling underlying mental issues, that they may be well-hidden.

One might ask, is suicidal behaviour an expression of self-destructive behaviour or an indication of the failure of a self-preservation system?

According to Thomas Joiner, a reseraher and psychologist, low sense of belongingness, perceived burdensomeness that one’s existence burdens family, friends, and/or society and the idea that “my death will be worth more than my life to family, friends, society, etc.” and the ability for lethal self-injury drives youngsters to suicide.  Making them fight with their self-preservation motives.

Most of us may have struggled with thoughts of suicides in our weaker moments. Suicide, most often accompanies an untreated or under-treated mental health concern – depression.

Some of us are able to ride over the tide of emotions due to our sheer willpower to live, the hope that things will change, compels us to hang in there. The hope comes from our own desire to fight our depressing thoughts or from the support we find in that outstretched hand or listening ear.

But, not all have that strength.

Some feel the razor pain of existence and even living seems like a weight too much to carry.

Come to think of it, we teach our children so many skills, but we do little to prepare them emotionally, or with realistic, usable relationship skills.

Although there is no reliable indicator for an attempt, can we be more aware of the telltale signs among our friends and relations who maybe sending out warning signs?

When a friend or child or relative talks about suicide or death or “going away” or ‘nobody wants me’, feeling hopeless or guilty, isolating themselves by not taking part in normal activities, exhibiting lots of self-destructive behavior (substance abuse, reckless driving), giving away prized possessions or their stuff, drastic changes in their eating/sleeping patterns.

Studies suggest these are a few signs that need we need to pay heed to and notice. The best way to help is stay involved and communicate, express and offer support without any judgment and importantly, love. Get help if they are not willing to talk to you.

They need you even though their body language and emotions display otherwise.

Can we listen without bias or blame, offer empathy and understanding, and openly communicate with them, and may be prevent a future suicide attempt?

Reach out to them and help them to make small changes to cope with the stress, building a healthy lifestyle one tiny activity at a time to build emotional skills.

“When people kill themselves, they think they’re ending the pain, but all they’re doing is passing it on to those they leave behind.”

To all those fighting to stay sane, hold on to that thread of life and tug is till it blows like a parachute sweeping you higher to fly and soar to heights of joy. Your time on earth is not yet over. You are here for a purpose and the purpose will show up.

Your pain is heartrending but reach out – towards love, it’s there for you.

Choose Love – choose life.

Love and healing,

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