When suicides become the first option
Why is it that more and more young people are turning to suicide as a first option? Where are parents, teachers and friends failing? I have known...
Why is it that more and more young people are turning to suicide as a first option? Where are parents, teachers and friends failing? I have known Kishor for twenty years. He started off as a light boy and soon started learning how to use the camera. Soon he had become a cameraman. From a traditional herding community, he often spoke of his eldest child, a daughter, the apple of his eye. Two years ago, when she was 19 and his son 18, they arranged a typical "exchange" marriage for them both, with the brother and sister marrying a brother and sister. Kajal went off to her husband's home but came to her parents' home often and for long periods. Once she came in a huff as her mother- in-law had been rude or called her names, and Kishor refused to send her back till her in-laws, both of them, came and apologised and explained why it had happened. A truce was called, and she was persuaded to go back. Her long visits to her parents continued. Ten days ago, after another one of them, she went home accompanied for the trip by Kishor. He spoke to her the next day and she seemed cheerful. The day after, in the evening her father-in-law called to say there had been another row, a bad one. Kishor asked if he should come at once. "Give it an hour", he was told. An hour later her father-in-law called to say things were ok. The next morning he called again, to say she had hung herself. Smita was a part of our drama group for close to fifteen years. Daughter of a distinguished writer, she and her sister were talented painters, singers and actors with all the freedom in the world. And her father spoiled her, giving her whatever she asked for. One fine day, while she was alone at home, she hung herself. No known depression, no problems that anyone could think of. Why is it that more and more young people are turning to suicide as a first option? Where are parents, teachers and friends failing? In both these cases the fathers insist that their daughters could have told them anything at all, that they had always kept all channels of communication open, that the girls were not afraid or hesitant to discuss matters with them. Then why didn't they talk? We hear of suicides all around us. Farmers, failed examination candidates, children reprimanded for something, others denied a special meal or clothing, women abused domestically and more. Suicides seem to have become "ordinary", the ghastliness, the desperation, the finality of them as though forgotten, or disregarded. We seem to have become desensitised to them, and those attempting it too seem to take the action casually, as though it is reversible. And alas, it is not. School and college authorities need to work with parents and councilors to pro actively speak of conflict management in students' and young people's lives, and teach ways of coping, whether that be sharing the burden with a loved one, going to a councilor, meditating or indulging in other calming and anxiety reducing activities. And parents must talk about the precious gift that life is, how each day, however difficult, is a new day. We have become a society adrift, one that feels it is modern in outlook just because we live surrounded by modern appliances and an advertising blitz. We have become unmoored of ethical bearings and moral compasses, and we try and fill this emptiness with consumerism, and acquisitions. Yet there are other repercussions, undreamt of and unexpected, and young people turning to snuffing out their lives out of boredom or ennui, or dejection is one devastating manifestation. (The writer is a popular danseuse and social activist)