– Akchayaa R, III B.A. English
Image source : Pinterest
Come September 10 and all of our Instagram and Facebook feeds are filled with poems, stories, micro-fiction and other artistic exploits on suicide prevention. Ironically, I intend on doing the same, minus the poetics and aesthetics. Suicide is the leading cause of death amongst people between the ages of 15 and 29 – the age where people are supposed to be discovering themselves, travelling the world, experimenting and just living their life to the fullest. But sadly, they suffer from a sense of hopelessness and despair that makes them believe that there is no option but to end their lives.
Depression, schizophrenia and stress are some of the leading causes of suicides among people of this age group. Stress can be from studies, work related pressure and other family problems. At some point, stress seems inevitable, but the way people cope with stress or mental illness can make all the difference. Stress accumulates when a person has been cooped up for too long and has a mundane routine without a break. Not all of us can afford to break free, for various reasons ranging from the 85% attendance to being fired, but we can do little things that go a long way in de-stressing, like taking a walk by the beach, petting the neighbour’s dog, listening to music and other activities that help relax and clear our minds.
Dealing with mental illnesses is harder because unlike stress, they do not go away with music or long walks. If not treated at the beginning, mental illnesses will have dire consequences on the person. Before all of that, people need to stop romanticising mental illnesses to a point where some think it is ‘cool’ to suffer from depression or anxiety. Nobody chooses to be sad or have anxiety attacks willingly. In many cases, mental illnesses aren’t even treated like a ‘real’ ailment and the effects of such illnesses are also downplayed. When this happens on a regular basis, the person suffering keeps their thoughts to themselves and eventually they reach a point where suicide seems like the only option.
The only way to prevent another person from taking their life is removing the stigma and ignorance surrounding mental illnesses and suicidal behaviour. Schools should not only teach about mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell but also about mental illnesses and suicidal behaviour so that one can identify the latter and prevent a few people from taking their lives. Sensitisation about suicides and mental illness is the need of the hour. Caution should be taken while showing suicide in any form of media and suicide prevention help-lines must always be given to ensure that nobody takes a hasty decision during their most vulnerable time.
It is extremely important for people to educate themselves on suicidal behaviour and if they notice any symptoms in someone, even the smallest one, it is imperative that they talk to that person and try to understand what is troubling them and urge them to seek a counsellor. To those who are suicidal or depressed, it is important to realise that things will get better over time, provided you take the necessary measures – it can be talking to someone who cares or seeing a therapist and taking the right medication. This is the one life we will ever get and the focus must be on living it to the fullest and not being engulfed by the negativity. I am not going to finish with a pretentious, motivational quote about life being a gift because we see enough of those on social media. But I will end by saying that everyone deserves a second chance at life now matter how many times we have hit rock bottom and nobody ever has to feel that killing themselves is better than facing our demons.
Suicide Helpline (for Tamil Nadu):
Sneha Foundation: 914424640050