Struggling to control her tears, Jai’s mother said, “I would love to know why... It’s the only question I have because not knowing the reason is what is keeping me from getting over it. It’s haunting. He meant everything to me and now I have no reason to live”... It was not just Jai’s mother, who wanted to know the reason. In fact his family, friends and community had the same question, “WHY??? What could I have done to prevent this?” If only they would have given more time, given more attention and noticed his last Facebook update – “Going to Jesus tonight...”
Shock? – Doubt? – Denial? – Shame? – Guilt? – Fear? – Anger? – Blame? - Or an ‘attention please’ plea? - Was his last Facebook update a subtle element of a cry for help?
We can think of unfathomable number of reasons, but what could we possibly do to cripple it? It seems very easy to say, “When they have guts to face the pain of ending their lives for one moment, why aren’t they having the same guts for a moment longer to face the battle?” It’s all true but adolescents are incredibly fragile, in ways that many adults seem to forget. Anything that hurts is devastating. If we have forgotten, let me remind you the society has changed. If not for everyone, the youth lives in a decadent society, what can we expect? The New age, the Me and Now, No God, Drugs, Rock, alcohol, twisted values and so on. Everything that is happening to them is in the “here and now” and they don’t think time heals all wounds. They have no ability to think about life in terms of broader perspective or “Big Picture”.
Today, the so called “Youngistan” of India form one of those vulnerable groups who on one hand are expected to be the leaders, while on the other hand are baffled cluster and browbeaten. Due to the imbalance of youth population and limited opportunities in every field many are shattered with the thirst to have their dream life, urge to fulfil the expectation of the society, coping up with the competition. Not only these factors, but emotionally draining changes in family dynamics, bitter-relationship breakups, academic failures, being bullied, financial changes, parental separation etc. Yes, it’s very hard to understand and the reasons are deep and long standing. The guy who committed suicide right after his girlfriend broke up or the girl that contemplated suicide after she lost her job probably had a history of low self-worth since ages that was magnified by the upsetting event.
Statistics show that every 40 seconds, someone, somewhere attempts suicide. In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. It’s the second leading cause of death in the 10-24 years age group. This does not include suicide attempts which are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide. Suicidal teens romanticize death as an adventure and living on the edge. Kids think that this is a glamorous way to die, a way to get a lot of attention that they couldn’t get in life. Recently, on Twitter, there was this "R.I.P Blake" trending topic. It turns out a teen named Blake tweeted all the way up till his death. He even tweeted his suicide note. Another over dramatic example, a Yale student made a trip to NYC just to jump off the Empire state building. Such acts are committed just to be noticed with a thought in mind, "Well, they didn't notice when I did all this, maybe they will notice me now".
Suicide is a difficult topic for the media to cover, as they fear creating copycats or a suicide cluster. But, silence kills. If it’s not talked about, it will not be possible to reach out and convey the message to those suicidal victims that it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The nonstop media coverage often leads to more tragedy. When the media comes and does a graphic depiction of it - it doesn’t work to scare kids away. Have you heard of the computer term, “Garbage in Garbage out?” Our minds work same way. If an already unstable person watches such documentary, it would be easy for such vulnerable mind to fixate on it. For example, ‘the dying trend” when Marilyn Monroe took her life is August 1962, resulted in rise of suicide rate by 12% in USA, i.e. 197 additional suicides.
Dealing with the loss of loved ones, young souls, is always difficult, especially when their death could have been prevented. Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility. It could be a friend, relative, teacher at school, colleague at work or anyone for that. Before we witness any further tragedies, it’s good we wake up, hear the cry and take responsibility to tackle the suicide stigma. We just need to give a little more time, have a little more patience and give a little more attention to sense those warning signs coming from the suicidal victims. Often the youth considering suicide will give clues through their comments. If not through words, they might talk about suicide or death in general, give hints that they might not be around anymore... During this time it is important to restrict access to any items your teen might use to harm them.
The cause of suicides is always due to an inability of the person in communicating the inner scream of painful emotions. People who have survived suicide attempts have reported wanting not so much to die as to stop living; a strange dichotomy but a valid one nevertheless. If an individual can just be shown that they can change, their life can change, and their misery be relieved, the thought of suicide is gone. It is called HOPE.
It’s my responsibility, your responsibility; it’s the person down the street’s responsibility to look out for those around us. The more we deal with these issues head-on instead of ignoring them, the easier it will be for people to seek help when they need it. This means more lives will be saved. A kind word at the right time could save a life. Just look around. We have a lot of people in pain. Be a friend, make a phone call, reach out, and hug someone. Sometimes, that is all it takes to save a life...