By ANSHUMAN BHARGAVA :
Call it changes in lifestyle pressure patterns or waning resilience and capability of the youth to face the harsh realities of life, such large number of suicide by the youth underlines a major flaw in our social system.
Though suicides happen in all stratum and sections of society, the reasons are widely different. What is, however, common in all classes today is the lack of quality family time. People’s aspirations are as high as their ambitions are unrealistic, and to achieve those, they outpace their capabilities and requirements in the mad rush to excel.
EVEN as we observe World Suicide Prevention Day every year, suicide continues to be a growing menace in India with lakhs of youth losing their lives early for a stupid decision of a moment. In less than one year, at least 250 cases of suicide have been reported in the city of Indore alone. The reasons behind the suicides are as varied as they are weird. At least 10 students committed suicide in the city this year due to exam pressure, while 12 youngsters died due to minor tiffs with family members.
At least 14 persons died frustrated by chronic illnesses while another 10 sacrificed their lives due to unremitted love or illicit relations. Nine people killed selves due to the burden of loan, while extortion fear took the lives of 15. The rest of about 160 people died due to depression, addiction, unemployment, and other unknown reasons. The disturbing trend is further made worrisome by the fact that of all those who committed suicide in the 11 months, at least 70 per cent were youth. In cities like Mumbai and Delhi, the issue is more pronounced and threatening as the number of suicides cross thousands every year. Director-General of WHO Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “Despite progress, one person still dies every 40 seconds from suicide.” Death in 40 seconds adds up to eight lakh people globally and it is also a fact that 25 times as many people also attempt suicide. “Every death is a tragedy for family, friends, and colleagues. Yet, suicides are preventable.
We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programmes in a sustainable way,” the Director-General said. Call it changes in lifestyle pressure patterns or waning resilience and capability of the youth to face the harsh realities of life, such large number of suicide by the youth underlines a major flaw in our social system and a widening rift between the happy and the unhappy, the haves and the have-nots, between the privileged and the deprived. Though suicides happen in all stratum and sections of society, the reasons are widely different. What is, however, common in all classes today is the lack of quality family time. People’s aspirations are as high as their ambitions are unrealistic, and to achieve those, they outpace their capabilities and requirements in the mad rush to excel. Contentment gets ever elusive and the hankering for more money and a still better life creates an unseen psychological pressure to perform better and do more, even if that means immense mental and physical drain.
This constant stress eventually leads to a breakdown and disconnects a person from his family, obliterating from his view the realities of life around him. His perceptions and objectives change as he compulsively jostles for space to survive in the hard-fought competition to succeed. To balance this off, there is little scope for recreation or personal space in his life. The person’s family life gets fraught with dissensions and alienation and at the end of the day, he ends up feeling lonely, and depression builds up. This is true not just for white-collar workers but also for students and businessmen under pressure. The lack here is of family time and support and the essential ‘me time’ to think, introspect, create, improvise and relax. People need to find space for themselves and leave the professional world outside that space. That is the only way to unwind and have a balanced life.
One must realise that life is big and wonderful even beyond the 9 am to 6 pm job; that life can be meaningful even beyond the obsessive craze for 90 per cent result. And one must also realise that success is not bagging a gold medal, it is a subjective appreciation of how rich and fulfilling one ‘feels’. It also falls upon each individual to take care of the other individual in his association and/care and ensure he/she is not depressed or showing abnormal behaviour. Care and attention from peers or guardians help a lot in changing moods and attitudes towards positivity. Many a time, mood swings happen but these are temporary phases and any action taken in haste during that phase can prove detrimental to an individual, wherein comes the need for empathy from people around. Constant counseling by friends and relatives changes approach towards life and the positive things become prominent. The effort of every company management should be towards raising its sensitivity and consciousness towards employees’ woes and address them in time.
People spend 10 hours a day in the office and the office atmosphere, work pressure and the employers’ approach matter a great deal in shaping their attitude towards life. The effort should be towards raising the self-esteem of every individual so that they feel good about themselves. Indians are some of the most sleep-starved and holiday-starved as well as ill-paid work professionals in the world and this is directly related to office management, something which employers should be concerned of. Constant pressure takes a toll on an individual’s physical and mental state, leading to suicidal approach. Companies should also hold creative programmes and counseling sessions for their workers to provide them a more holistic atmosphere, especially when in our society counseling options and creative avenues are so limited. The same holds for education institutes because students too have their low phases and bouts of depression which have a poor redressal mechanism in the country.
Geriatric care is another neglected field and geriatric suicides are also high in number because the elderly are often a neglected lot with the poor social support system. Ways must be explored to attend to them and make them feel involved and important so that depression is avoided and a positive stance towards life is promoted. The dominance of machine over man is a global phenomenon that is devaluing humanity and here lies the crux of the problem. By the way, unless the human to human interaction and the relationship of warmth, trust and belongingness gets restored, which is the task of a tall order, the tendency to feel alienated, lost and beaten will prevail and grow in a large section of the population that will potentially lead to suicides. Efforts must be made to align human propensities with humanity rather than technology and its intrusive influence.