Popular television actress Pratyusha Banerjee’s suicide has once again aroused the question ‘why end life this way’? She is the latest to be added to the list of Bollywood Actress Jiah Khan, VJ Nafisa Joseph and the likes. Recently heard of a young medical student committing suicide and I’m sure there are many more who have succumbed, only it hasn’t become national news.
The article doesn’t aim to decipher or decode why Pratyusha committed suicide. But tries to provide a picture as to what causes a person to take such an extreme step. On the outset, the lives of all those mentioned above seemed to be going pretty smoothly, then why such a tragic death? No matter how glamorous or perfect a life seems, everyone has their share of problems. It could be financial issue, relationship, death and the list goes on. When things go wrong or against our expectations, most will hit a low and feel caught in a web of emotions.
However, most would seek the help and support of friends, family, mentors, therapists and the like. Life seems a burden in the midst of a crisis because we are not able to see the bigger picture and remember that ‘this too shall pass’. This is where ‘support system’ becomes so important. Our well-wishers show us what we’re worthy and capable of when we’re focusing on an unsuccessful relationship or project for example.
At this point, as a Psychologist, we help clients reassess life and bring their focus to anything that could uplift them- be it volunteering, a goal or travelling. We all need ‘something to look forward to’- it is essential to help an individual focus on these and help them overcome the short-sighted view of life that normally engulfs during such stressful times.
Sadly, the alarming rate of suicide among youngsters also highlights that their coping mechanism seems inadequate. It is normal to be a little low, moody and depressed when things are not going great but when it goes beyond 2-3 weeks, then the individual ought to seek support. Alcohol and drugs are only a temporary escape from reality. We have to accept the challenge and face it head–on at some point. It seems that especially with high profiles, the need to appear at their best and image management is a priority. I recall a high-profile celebrity stating that he didn’t know how to emotionally be present with his family during a crisis because they are so used to curbing emotions. Too much curtailing and faking of emotions will affect the individual, especially in what seems to be a crisis.
Normally, an individual attempting or committing suicide is usually depressed and/or tends to be impulsive. Studies have shown that adequate support and care many a times prevents suicide. The tendency to magnify an issue is very common in such circumstances. Therefore, the individual feels he/she doesn’t have adequate resources to cope with the issue at hand, and feels death resolves the suffering. I recall reading that it is not death they seek but it’s an avoidance of life.
The least we can do is to reach out to those who seem to be going through a tough phase. This does not mean over powering or taking over them but letting them know that ‘I’m here for you’. Everyone faces some stressor/s- we can choose to take it as a challenge and that’s when it can empower us and thus becomes Eustress or Positive Stress. Else, if we let it engulf us- it becomes Negative Stress or Distress. One thing that i found helpful with my clients is to focus their attention on some goal – no matter how small, so that energy is directed towards it and thus slowly begin the process of healing and self-empowerment. Life is too precious – let’s embrace it with all its ups and downs.