QUEEN'S ROAD: According to the National Crime Record Bureau, 2014, 31,666 people committed suicide in India. Karnataka stands among the top five states where such cases happen. There are various reasons why individuals take the extreme step. However the courage required to take one’s own life should be utilised to face life’s challenges instead, says an activist on condition of anonymity.
Various NGOs and groups today reach out to those in desperate need of help. Montfort College’s Sampurna Montfort Counselling and Psychological Services (SCAPS) is one such centre that caters to the needs of depressed and anxious individuals. It provides both free as well as paid services. It has a helpline known as the Sahai helpline (080-25497777), but still needs a full-fledged system in place. The centre promotes its services through workshops. The students who are undergoing training here visit as many as 200 institutions every year to offer help.
“In our society, going to a counselling centre and meeting a counsellor is considered a taboo,” says head, Vinny George.
To mark World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) last week, the centre had organised a campaign that began on September 5 and will go on till September 19. “We are trying to reach out as much as possible. Of late, we have seen that a lot of suicides that take place are group suicides among teenagers.We are therefore targeting youngsters in schools, colleges, cafes etc to create awareness,” he added.
In an attempt to create awareness among the general public, the students and faculty of the institution lit candles and paraded on the footpaths outside their institution in solidarity with the kin of those who had committed suicide.
“I lost a friend in the same way, and I feel reaching out to others is the least I could do for my friend,'' says Bijoy, a student at the Ramaiah Institute of Management Sciences.
Those who lived to tell the tale
Benny Prasad, who walked the tunnel of depression and saw the light at the end, is today a man of purpose. “Having failed the so-called expectations of the educational system, I was at the point of committing suicide at the age of 16. It was then that I had an encounter with my self,” said Benny, who holds the world record for being the 'fastest man ever' to visit all 245 countries in the world. He says, “Our families have expectations not based on the potential of the child but based on what society thinks, and most of the time, it is based on how you can financially sustain yourself, not on how much joy and contentment, life can give. My father being an aero-space scientist, I was expected to become like him. But when I failed his expectations, I was considered a worthless, useless child. At 16, at the lowest point of my life, when everyone said I was useless, when my health failed and I had been given just six months to live, I wanted to commit suicide. At that point, I had an encounter with spirituality that told me that I was needed to help others.”
As a result of that, today he looks back and is grateful that he did not commit suicide.
Adds he, “If I could live through all my physical and emotional challenges and break world records, then there is life for every broken child.”
Many times, in our Indian family system, he says, all we are interested in is how our children are doing in studies. When was the last time we asked them,”how are you doing in life?”
He continues, “A life is far greater that just education. We need to go out and meet people, take some time off and listen to them rather than trying to give them advice on how to live. You will see how many lives are transformed.”
He along with his friends has also started a cafe called Chai 3:16. “We serve chai and our aim is to build relationships and listen to the problems that youngsters go through,” he says.
Ankit, another young man working in the film industry, was severely depressed when he reached out to helpline Hear to Listen 24/7.
He was confused and in a toxic relationship that had entangled him in a thick web of emotions.
He had attempted suicide unsuccessfully. He would cry as he spoke to the counsellors and drank endless cups of coffee.
This went on for days and finally, he drew strength and comfort from the presence of the counsellors.
He finally broke off the toxic relationship and married someone he is now in a stable relationship with and has a baby girl. He is successfully doing his Masters abroad and is enjoying life.
Amit was highly successful in business and had a devoted girlfriend with whom he lived.
They were planning to get married but somehow, things began to sour and his girlfriend decided to ‘move on’.
Amit was devastated to find the relationship broken beyond repair. After multiple attempts at suicide, he went through a long, messy, excruciatingly painful dark period trying to cope with the situation.
He cried out to his counsellors at Here to Listen 24/7. Today, after almost seven years, he is happily married and is back on track with a flourishing business. He travels all over India and the world.
Roopa was inconsolable when her dreams of a perfect relationship were shattered and she lost her job at the same time. Overwhelmed by hopelessness and the desire to end her life, she called the helpline.
She would call every time she felt low. She has now bounced back and is cheerful about the future.
As reported by this paper earlier, ‘Safe Hands’ launched the helpline Here2Listen24/7 two months ago to reach out to the student community.
At a recent event organised by them at Freedom Park, three friends Philip, Joy and Sharan shared their experience and the struggles they faced after their friend committed suicide on March 30.
Dr Ali Khwaja, chairman of the Banjara Academy, then cleared some myths that revolve around the concept of suicide.
He said, “Suicide is a cry for help. Every person who has attempted or succeeded in committing suicide has given out a cry for help but we have not heard it.”
Suicide is an option that many choose when they feel there is nothing left for the world to offer them. It should therefore be the responsibility of every hopeful individual to spread hope to those distressed.
“Let us start looking around at people who need help and reach out. Let us make that resolution today and move forward to create a better life full of hope for everyone,” said Dr. Khwaja.