II Monograph: Towards a Suicide Free Society (Contd.): Introduction

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A student kills himself to escape the ignominy of exam failure. A woman burns herself to escape daily harassment by in-laws over inadequate dowry. A finance dealer ends his life to fend off the horde of creditors. The scion of an industrial empire kills himself after an uneasy marital relationship. The scion of another empire shoots himself after killing family members in an inebriated state. A stockbroker ends life after suffering huge losses in a stock market crash. Three sisters hang themselves from the ceiling fan as they see no end to their poverty and misery. A mother jumps to death with her kids for a similar reason. Lovers fling themselves from ‘suicide points’ all the world over. Buddhist monks immolate themselves over Vietnam. Roop Kunwar commits Sati at Deorala. A sadhu immolates himself over a Ram Temple at Ayodhya. Fans immolate themselves over the death of a politician cum matinee idol, and even over the arrest of another such. A terminally ill patient ends his (and other’s) misery by taking an overdose. Another requests for, and secretly gets, euthanasia performed to end his saga of endless pain and suffering. A Film Director falls from the terrace under suspicious circumstances and we accept it as an end because he was suffering from Chronic Depression. Somehow, the diagnosis helps us place the event in perspective and accept it as justified, even if undesirable. It does not shock us, or benumb us, as much as the others.

Are these just gory newspaper headlines we avidly read but quickly gloss over ? Macabre details to acknowledge, but knowingly accept as inevitable facts of life ? It does not involve us, so we do experience a twinge of compassion, a brief wringing of the heart, and pass on. Are we to feel guilty ? That hardly helps, unless it is a propeller to action. Is our bored insulation justified ? That is so only if denial is the sole mechanism we utilize, and ostrich the only animal we admire.

We know that suicide has existed since time immemorial, but we also know that the modern attempts at suicide prevention have not. Number of people feel secure that suicide does not affect them, they are not suicide prone. Their family members are reasonably secure, confident types, not the ones to succumb to suicidal thoughts and impulses. The fact, however, is that everyone in his life time has contemplated suicide sometime or the other, and almost everyone knows of someone or the other whose life has been prematurely terminated in this manner. And even if we know people do commit suicide there is something tangible and definite we can do to save a life. So to think of moving towards a suicide free society may not be that farfetched an idea. Should we join the crusade towards a suicide free society? Maybe. But any standpoint is worth consideration only after we review the facts of the case.

Here, then, are some of the facts.

Mens Sana Monographs [MSM]: A Mens Sana Research Foundation Publication



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