Thursday, August 23, 2018

Suicide is a painful reality

Despite the nationwide efforts to nurture, support and protect our children, we continue to see young people taking their own lives every year. The recent death of a student by suicide in Thimphu has once again frozen my heart. Dying by suicide is just one part of the tragedy. What is more painful is the wound it leaves in the lives of those people left behind by it. Although I have never lost any of my family-members to suicide, I have lost a friend in 2008 after she consumed poison to put an end to some relationship problems she was having with her husband. Given how much the suicide of that friend shocked me at the time, I can only guess at the devastation those who have lost their loved ones to suicide have experienced. The pain mixed with guilt, anger and regret solidifies into a bitter lump of emotions the taste of which takes months and even years to vanish from some heads.

Suicide is undoubtedly a complex issue. When someone close to you takes his or her own life, it leaves you utterly confused. You would always wonder why did he or she have to take such a decision and why you couldn’t sense something was wrong before it was too late. Even the explanations and reasons left behind in the suicide notes do not answer you fully. You will have to live with the pain and guilt throughout the rest of your life and this is the most painful and tragic part of your life’s journey. It is very sad to see so many families destined to walk this path in the world every day.

Yet I believe suicide is something that can be prevented if the symptoms could be recognized on time. Depression is cited as one of the leading causes of suicide. In the face of rapid globalization, the traditional family systems are fast breaking down and our youth are often caught up in the midst of stressful events mainly resulting from broken families, extramarital affairs of parents and other socio-economic crises that come hand-in-hand with modernization. As parents, it is always important to have open communication with our children and make them feel loved, cared and supported whenever we are with them. There should be a safe and conducive environment at home where our children can share their concerns without the fear of being judged or yelled at. Unless we understand their problems, we cannot help them.

It is important for parents and teachers to understand that today’s youth are more sensitive than we were during our childhood and hence, we should be able to deal with them accordingly. In our time, we would never think of killing ourselves even when we were tortured and punished like convicted criminals but today, we live in a very fragile world where even a trivial issue can push our kids to the edge of their life. The depressive episodes that spring out from as insignificant matter as the shortage of attendance in the school or the pain of being rejected by a lover, often lead to a point where the victims develop a misconception that the world would be better off without them. It is at this point that they decide to end their lives not realizing that their loved ones have to wail with pain at their grave during the funeral. The rising cases of suicides especially among the youth population over the years tell us that suicide prevention should be a national priority.

If you ever sense that your loved ones or friends are suicidal, you should never hesitate to break the silence and offer to help them. We can certainly save so many lives if we can provide them timely intervention and support. The great news is that in most cases, you don’t even have to be a professional counselor or a specialist to help people. Most of the depressed people simply need somebody to talk to, who can listen to their stories and give them moral support to lift themselves up from the situation they are in. Just listening to people and empathizing with them itself is therapeutic. Even when you see people sharing suicidal posts on social media, you should never make fun of them. They are using social media to share their feelings just because they have not found anybody to talk to in person. Just one single positive comment from you might save a life.

For those who are depressed and suicidal, you should know that killing yourself can never be a solution. Instead, you should seek professional support to add new meaning to your life and move on. Please remember that depression and all other mental health issues are curable diseases today and you should never hesitate to consult health professionals if you ever feel depressed or stressed. The world loves you so much and the vacuum you create in your family when you die can never be filled up again. Therefore, please be strong and stay positive to unravel so many beautiful treasures life has to offer you. You all have a beautiful future in front of you, too precious to be missed at a juncture where you have not discovered even half of it.

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