“I feel certain that I’m going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of
those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices.”
She was busy with cleaning the mess children had created before leaving for school; to her knowledge, all had gone for routine jobs and she was alone in the kitchen on the third floor. Suddenly, her attention got diverted to an unusual strong burning smell with coppery tinge and occasional crackling of bones, she peeped from the window and saw an inferno in the courtyard. By the time she could reach and try to douse the fire, her brother- in- law had turned into a log of charcoal and died instantaneously.
The beautiful girl was under stress from her parents who wanted her to be a doctor; frustrated by the demand beyond her capability, she bought a small packet of pesticide from Junglat Gali, consumed it, and died of organ failure in a hospital.
The boy from Ushkar Colony was brilliant but would occasionally consume drugs, had attempted suicide twice, was saved by the timely intervention of his family.
Three different case histories with the same self-destructive tendency, depicting untimely, painful deaths and attempted suicide. In our day to day life, we often hear people uttering words like, “I cannot take it anymore, I want to kill myself,” all of them may not mean it, some of them may seriously attempt and fail but many among them go ahead and do it successfully. Echoing Hamlet, three categories are best explained as: “To be, “Not to be, “and “To be or not to be”. The first group involves people who do not want to die but convey a dramatic message to the friends and family, their attempt involves minimum drug consumption, minor wrest slashing, and dramatic scenes of jumping from a building. The second group is the unfortunate group, they seriously intend to die, and they neither warn nor leave any chance for intervention. They usually prefer violent methods like shooting or strangling or like Virginia Wolf fill their pockets with heavy stones to sink and drown easily; The last ones are ambivalent about dying, doubtfully believe that things may work out for them, leaving it to God, they go ahead and do it, some survive, and some do not.
Suicide is considered a self-administered agonizing activity in which hostility is turned against one’s self to the extent of killing. It may be taken as a symbolic cry for help from a person who cannot deal effectively with psychological breakdown of his personality. Death is tragic by nature, death by suicide total devastation, more for the living than for the dead. Suicide attempts are usually motivated by a strong desire for revenge in which the sufferer wants to instill pain and guilt in another person who is thought to be responsible for his failures in life, the person who commits suicide puts his “psychological skelton in the survivor’s emotional closet’” making him resentful for the rest of his life. Thoughts of taking one’s own life are universal; a serious health disorder and the chief cause of unnecessary, premature death worldwide, it is found throughout the written history and occurs in all cultures and countries. Christianity and Judaism considered it a crime. English law made it morally and legally wrong. In Hinduism, it is spiritually unacceptable, Islam denounces it, and considerers it a grievous sin. The right to life may be a birthright, the right to die is directly linked with the dependent parents, unsettled children, a disappointed spouse, and traumatized loved ones who live stigmatized lives after the incident.
Suicide remains a topic of discussion and research in Clinical Psychology with its famous case study of Marilyn Monroe, one of the celebrities of the entertainment world who committed suicide successfully. A growing shred of evidence shows that like many major psychiatric illnesses familial and genetic factors contribute to the risk for suicidal behavior, in Marilyn’s case her great-grandfather had killed himself by hanging. Guru Dutt, from the world of entertainment, committed suicide, and both his sons repeated the act. Cult and religion-oriented mass suicides are equally troublesome, Delhi Burari case where 11 people took their lives following a religious ritual is fresh in our minds. In a strict sense this does not mean that suicidal behavior is inevitable for individuals with family history or cult and religion- oriented incidents but simply means that such people may be more vulnerable, they cannot deal effectively with challenging times.
The circumstances that may trigger suicide include, clinical depression following breakups or death of loved one, economic hardships, disappointment in love, loss of fortune, damaged sense of honor, strained interpersonal relationships, feeling of loneliness; reduced serotonin imbalance and transmission, disease, anorexia nervosa; pandemic, lockdowns, militancy, and gun culture; hardships related to migration and dislocation, and many more.
If a person decides to take his life, others cannot stop him but people around him are ethically bound to do so. Right to suicide is a right desired only temporarily, and desire to die, in some cases can be avoided. Suicide should be recognized as a public health emergency. Awareness programs in schools, colleges, public and religious places are highly advisable. Every suicide starts with a series of warning signs and the right way to deal is to address those signs immediately. Proper and on time intervention can help a sufferer to regain his confidence and can allow him to see alternative ways to deal with problems and hardships in life, some attempts are impulsive acts and could be avoided by counselling and guidance from friends and family.
To manage an acute suicide crisis active intervention and immediate hospitalization is the first option. Effective efforts include addressing the underlying mental disturbances, limiting access to methods of suicide such as firearms, drugs and poisons, and substance misuse, helping settle financial issues, providing a congenial balanced home atmosphere; creating pleasurable situations to the sufferer like music, games and recreational activities, avoiding depressive conversations like deaths and bereavement, serving hot tea and coffee when depression sets in; not allowing seclusion or withdrawal from active life, pulling out the person for more outdoor activities to lift his mood and save his life. To save a life is to save humanity.