“Can you tell my parents that I have let them down, that I am not worthy of their love? I miss them. I am going to die Sriram, I am scared.”
I received this phone call from a young person few years back. I can never forget the anxiety, and stress that my friends and I went through. It also made us understand how unprepared and ignorant we were in dealing with suicides.
India has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. Fifteen people commit suicide every hour. Every year, between 30 and 40 people per 100,000 Indians between 15 and 29 kill themselves. This means 1 out of 3 suicides in the country are committed by a young person.
Some common reasons stated by National Crime Records Bureau for suicide among young people are love affairs, failure in examinations, dowry, abuse, illness and family problems.
“I am sad, tired, helpless, disillusioned, paranoid, unhappy; sorry, it would not do justice if I just gave only one adjective to describe my hurt,” a 19 year old told me.
In a world that makes unreasonable demands on them, young people are disillusioned about their education, relationships, jobs, sexuality, bullying, and abuse. Even with the explosion of social media they do not have credible and accessible information on dealing with depression, rejection and anxiety. Many do not trust or have the comfort to discuss their challenges with teachers and parents. They fear that their friends would judge them and may no longer be accepted if they revealed their anxieties openly.
Given this background “The Story of a Suicide,” is an important project that attempts to fill the information void.
In the novel, a young person decides to commit suicide. Who is this person? Why does he/she want to die? Where do they come from? Why are they upset, depressed and torn apart? And what drives them to it? Does he/she really die?
In the backdrop of a powerful story and visuals, this project aims to reach out to young people, by verbalising their struggles through the story, informing the do’s and don’ts when they face challenges, and providing a platform to share their experiences. It is a difficult subject but gripping and definitely engaging. It is that kind of a novel where one would want to stay-up-all-night to finish it.
Youngsters are surprisingly apathetic when it comes to things outside the Internet. So we decided to keep it online instead of a physical book. Reading the novel is simple. Go to www.storyofasuicide.com and follow the links. One can read the novel on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. For those who are not excited with the written word go ahead and listen to the novel by clicking on the play button under the Audio book. Each chapter also has a set of “How do I?” on various questions that trouble them. The do’s and don’ts would be direct but never moralistic.
“I don’t have the energy and will to live anymore Charu. I am tired of being a failure. I am tired of being defeated. I am tired of being heartbroken,” says Hari, one of the protagonists in the novel.
“Don’t worry. We can win their hearts, everyone, including your parents. Please don’t give up on life. Well if everyone who has a problem decided to commit suicide, this world will be filled with only dead people. There are people with problems far worse than yours but are still looking forward to a tomorrow with hope. Get up and prove that you are capable of something. Anything! Have faith. Have hope,” replies Charu.
I sensed the same helplessness, hurt and dejection when I heard the young person’s voice on the phone. She was crying for help, she was yearning to live, screaming to be understood but tired of failing.
During my interactions I found that youngsters are expressive, self-absorbed, independent, afraid, hurried, fearless, fame hungry, but surprisingly resilient. They need a listening ear, a reassuring touch and an inspiring push, not very hard but gentle enough to make them feel empowered so that they go on to create the lives that they truly want to create.
This article was published on DailyO
2 – Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2008. New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India; 2010. National Crime Records Bureau.
3 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3554961/