Back in 2016, Waseemullah Khan, a second year nursing student at Aga Khan University, was found in his dorm room, hanging from the ceiling.
His suicide caused ripples, as all news does, for a while. Where some were quick to blame the family for pressurizing him, others stated that there had to be some other cause, for he was stable academically. Regardless of the cause, it boils down to the fact that a young boy willingly took his life – something that could have been prevented.
Sadly, Waseemullah is not the only young person to have succumbed to death by suicide. In fact, there some evidence to suggest that various factors are leading to an increasing occurrence of death by suicide, particularly among young people.
Why is Suicide something you need to talk about?
A quick Google search displays some chilling statistics by the WHO Global Health Estimates which state:
Despite this, our society turns a blind eye towards suicide. It is considered a taboo and we shy away from talking about it, even though it exists in our society as an uncontrollable demon. How many times have we heard about a mother killing her kids and drowning herself in a well afterwards? Or a girl setting herself on fire after being raped? How many times have we done anything other than grunting and simply changing the news channel or flipping the newspaper page? When did we become this heartless and callous?
Why do people commit suicide?
While we may never know what exactly drives someone to do it, survivors of suicide attempts exist. No matter how trivial or unimportant it may seem, suicide is an avoidable evil that we need to talk about. One of the main reasons for attempting suicide is depression – another mental illness that is shoved aside or ridiculed, simply because we refuse to believe it exists. However, the link between suicide and depression is a strong one. Among those who suicide, 90% have an existing mental illness.
How can you stop or try to curb these alarming suicide rates?
Firstly, as a society, we need to agree that it is, indeed a problem and the responsibility lies on each of our shoulders. Additionally, there are certain warning signs to look out for in a suicidal person, such as:
- Expressing the desire to die or being preoccupied with the notion of death
- Searching for objects or ways to kill oneself
- Discussing a sense of hopelessness, feeling trapped or feeling like a burden
- Sleeping for an abnormally short or long amount of time
- Reckless or anxious behavior
- Extreme mood swings
- Loss of interest in things one previously cared about
- Making arrangements, such as giving away things, setting affairs in order
- Familial history of suicide
- An alcohol or drug problem
How to talk to someone who is having suicidal thoughts?
We also need to follow a certain set of guidelines while we deal with a potentially suicidal individual. Needless to say, sensitivity and empathy are essential.
Above all else, we need to convince them to seek professional help – and no, at this point, the ‘log kya kaheinge agar doctor ke paas jaoge’ ship has sailed.
Yes, it is a sin to take your life, but that sin falls on all our shoulders when we are the ones who push people over the edge.
A lot of people will scoff and say that those who suicide deserve the ridicule that follows. Some will argue with religion, talking about how they tampered with the natural course of life.
Perhaps, they did. Yes, it is a sin to take your life, but that sin falls on all our shoulders when we are the ones who push people over the edge. By having these ridiculously unrealistic societal standards, by telling people that they should ‘get over’ their depression and by downplaying the torment that goes on in their minds, we become a part of the problem and partakers in that sin.
What about those who are left behind?
One of the most overlooked facts is how the deceased’s family copes with the situation. Their loved ones death becomes dinner time gossip and many choose to point fingers at them, mercilessly rubbing salt in their wounds. As a community, how low have we chosen to fall, where we equate death with gossip?
Waseemullah’s suicide is only one among many that have been recently reported. Countless suicides go unreported or do not gain any coverage at all. However, suicide is as real a problem as any that our country is currently facing – perhaps even more drastic and in need of attention. It’s high time we got off our high horses, stopped seeing the world through our rose-tinted bubbles that we’ve created and address the issue at hand.
Cover Image via: IBTimes