My Journey From Head to Heart
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Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem.

Suicide is the act of willfully ending one's own life. According to official statistics, about a million people commit suicide annually, more than those murdered or killed in war. As of 2001 in the USA, suicides outnumber homicides by 3 to 2. Men die much more often than females by suicide, while females attempt suicide more often. Men-Women suicide ratio is 3:1. Males are more likely to end their life by violent methods (guns, knives, hanging, drowning etc.) while women primarily overdose on medications or use other ineffective methods. Our country’s IT hub South India is the world’s suicide capital. Kerala, the country's first fully literate state, has the highest number of suicides. Some 32 people commit suicide in Kerala every day. Out of every three cases of suicide reported every 15 minutes in India, one is committed by a youth in the age group of 15 to 29. Total number of suicide cases recorded in the whole of India in 2002 was 154,000.

Till a couple of years back I was strongly against people who talk about suicide or who actually commit suicide. I saw them as extremely weak & cowards, who do not have the courage to fight back & live life. Ending a life is easier than to live through the pain & challenges & learn to grow out of it.

"The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”

One quiet icy winter morning, one of my best friend, picked up a pen & a piece of paper, with trembling hands & teary eyes he wrote a suicide note to his parents, etching the reason he cannot bear to live, went in his parents’ room, took his father’s revolver out of the locker, loaded it with 1 bullet, stuck it in his mouth, closed his eyes shut & pressed the trigger.

This was over 6 years back. I still cannot believe that my friend who was athletic, good-looking, confident, always stood up for what he believed in, amused the teachers & the class alike with his precisely timed comments everyday, ranked consistently in top 5 of the class, could take such a drastic step. I still believe, without a shadow of doubt that if he had reached out to me or another friend, he would have been alive & very successful today.

Depression is the foremost cause of suicides. Reason behind it can be anything ranging from disappointment in love-business-academics etc. & the resulting pain & stress, to feelings of emptiness & hopelessness in life etc, to illness due to chemical imbalance in brain like bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia etc.

People commit suicide when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain. People having such thoughts are NOT weak, flawed or crazy. It doesn’t even mean that they really want to die - it only means that they have more pain than they can cope with right now. If I start piling weights on your shoulders, you will eventually collapse if I add enough weights... no matter how much you want to remain standing. Willpower has nothing to do with it. Of course you would cheer yourself up, if you could. There are many kind of pain that may lead to suicide. What may be bearable to me might be unbearable to you. Individuals vary in their capacity to withstand pain.

People resort to suicide to get relief from pain, paradox is they forget that ‘relief’ is a feeling and they have to be alive to ‘feel’ it. When pain exceeds pain-coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result. Suicide is neither wrong nor right; it is not a defect of character; it is morally neutral. It is simply an imbalance of pain versus coping resources. You can survive suicidal feelings if you do either of two things: (1) find a way to reduce your pain, or (2) find ways to increase your coping resources. Both are possible.

Despite the facts & recent knowledge & research about suicide, there is so much social stigma associated with people suffering from depression & suicidal thoughts. Think about it. What’s the 1st thing we think about someone who says he/she wants to commit suicide? We invariably think 1) They are in pain or 2) They are weak and stupid or manipulating. Some of us will actually increase the pain by reacting badly to it, by saying or doing thoughtless things either because they are frightened or angry or they simply don’t know how to react. It’s because of this shame & cultural stigmas that are attached to such feelings that people are scared to even reach out to others to seek help. Ironically suicidal thoughts are just that a cry for help!

"Suicide was against the law. Johnny had wondered why. It meant that if you missed, or the gas ran out, or the rope broke, you could get locked up in prison to show you that life was really very jolly and thoroughly worth living.”

Suicide is like damaging the body to put an end to mental pain. It’s like applying a band-aid on a toe & hoping the head-ache will be cured. Spiritually a person who commits suicide will be re-born with same feelings & will be re-born with worse circumstances. Anyways, if a person is confiding in you that he is having suicidal thoughts, he is desperately seeking help & giving you a chance to do whatever you can to lessen the pain, help him/her re-gain faith & see things in perspective.

After lot of heart burn I’ve fortunately reached out to my friends and the best resource I have to cope with my pain is Art of Living & guruji’s knowledge to go deep into myself and hopefully understand, touch & heal the pain. Plus, helping her discreetly, talking to her & fighting sometimes also helps. It’s another matter that pain & such thoughts grow exponentially when I think she is with some other guy or when we don’t talk for couple of days.

I’ve decided to stay & keep loving her - come what may & that gives me strength & hope to go on.

6 Hitch Hikers:

Julie said...

Coincidently Feb 17 was the day my father was born, and i just noticed the date on your article. He shot himself when i was 11. I was just looking up a quote today ("The most authentic thing about us is the capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." on google and this is where they lead me. (its Ben Okri, the famous Nigerian novelist)

I do have the capacity to be greater than my suffering, and his suffering as well it turns out.

I have not always been sympathetic when people threatened suicide. I hated them for it. But recently i became more understanding of suicide, rather than judge it as the most violence you can do to loved ones. Talk about making someone wrong... We are unforgiven and unforgivable for not getting what they were saying and not saying. That's been my life as my fathers daughter. I just keep giving that up.

What ever you can do, just do it.

Love, Julie

Anupam Gupta said...

Jai Gurudev Ashwani,

got here through Bau's Blog...must say a very well written article...and more importantly its quite clarifying...i was confused about WHY people do it really...even i thought of doing it once...not for a girl but for everything boiling into my head and threatening to burst out at the same time. Thankfully i was saved.

Well done on the article. And well done. In general..hehe


In Search Of Myself said...

Thanks Anupam...: )

Pitamah said...

Nice article. I always wondered about suicide and you have answered many of my questions.

janani said...

jai gurudev ashwani

thanks for posting bau's blog on face came at the right time....

Ankit Garg said...

Jai Guru Dev,

Reached here from Bawa's blog...I wouldnt deny the fact that there have been times when I have thought of taking this easy way out....The reason is pretty much the same as yours...She is not with me...But the love survives....people call me crazy if I tell them this...they tell me to move on....But what they dont understand is that this very Love is the source of my energy in life....I have attached all the goals of life to this that it survives...till eternity..
This love is one reason that I couldnt commit a suicide.....I chose to fight and live....And Im so glad that I did...

I wish God gives every disturbed soul on this planet wisdom and strength enough to cope with the imbalance...

very well written article!

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