Dr Mona Nongmeikapam
We all heard different versions of this line growing up, “How precious is a year, ask a student who failed a grade…. how precious is a millisecond, ask a person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.” How precious is life? Well, ask a person who is dying. Or, anyone of us for that matter! What don’t we do for this precious life? Life insurance, health insurance, life premium, health coverage, EMIs, procuring homes and saving, saving saving……. meticulously for that precious elusive tomorrow. Though we may not admit it and young lovers would vehemently deny this, we all love our precious lives with all our might, perhaps way above anything else. And why not, this beautiful world that we see, our family, friends, everything we hold dear, the sounds, the smells, the delightful tastes……… all the exhilaration and thrills, ups and downs do happen in this one life, one existence. People give away precious wealth and all their lives’ savings to save a dear ones’ life, even though many times being aware that it is a losing battle. But what happens if you yourself turn your biggest enemy? When you decide that you have had enough and now it’s just time to call it quits. Is that ok? It’s your life, your choice after all. What about the people you leave behind? Ever heard of post-traumatic stress disorder or suicide survivors? Let’s see why it is just not ok.
Feeling hopeless- my favourite quote from Gone with the wind goes: “After all tomorrow is another day”. So simple yet full of meaning! When one can no longer to see hope or have faith of things improving in the near future, this is a sign of serious despair.
Feeling helpless- not being able to reach out or feeling that your problems are your own. Or worse still, that they are beyond any scope of help.
Feeling worthless- self-love is a big thing with our youth lately, thanks to Justin Beiber’s chartbuster: Love yourself. But young or old, if you start doubting your own self-worth or worse, start believing that you deserve the pain you are going through; those are the red flags. Meaning- you need help NOW!!!!!
The above 3 signs are called the Triad of Suicide and require emergency medical intervention.
If we get so paranoid over one strand of grey hair (which we anyway dye way before the greying process starts), why do we take something as serious as suicidal thoughts so lightly? When somebody mutters passingly that they are low and are feeling suicidal, why can’t we be a little more alarmed? Just a little more aware? Because SUICIDE (the big taboo word) is real. It’s happening in our homes, amidst us, everyday single day. Figures are scary: 8 lakhs deaths every year, meaning one death every 40 seconds. It is one of the highest causes of death in the 25-40 years age group. So it is not AIDS, drug abuse, cancer or infections but it’s “just a thought” that is snatching millions of precious vibrant lives away.
Tumthok o, hayeng nongallaga mai fazani! (Sleep, things will be alright by tomorrow).
And no Papa, Fhuragasu fararoi…. (let me not bother to translate this but that’s the paternal advice I occasionally get!)
Depression is an illness- period. Suicidal thoughts and suicidal gestures are part of an illness spectrum. Whatever be the cause: organic, environmental, social, personal or genetic, a disease is a disease. And the sooner we give Suicide the due seriousness it needs, the more lives we can save. Abetment of suicide is real; our honourable Supreme Court recognises it as a cognizable offence (the learned Shashi Tharoor can perhaps throw more light!) But my plea here today would be: let’s just save our own lives first. IT IS NOT NORMAL to wish to be dead. And if the feeling just does not go away, please reach out. There are many organizations, self-help groups and support organisations, suicide help-lines and of course, mental health professionals. It may be a false alarm. But what if it’s a red flag for something more serious? Or fatal? And what about the people you leave behind- the guilt, the questions, the self-doubts and self-blame. It’s a life worse than death for them and one we shouldn’t even wish to our worst enemies- lest our loved ones. Life is precious and very, very beautiful. If you don’t feel so, maybe you should reach out to the right people! And that would be the professionals. Just imagine how many times we forget to call back a friend who called up while we are driving or in the middle of cooking. Our friends and family may not always be there or they just may not be aware of the gravity of your anguish. And unfortunately our well-wishers may not always be the best advisors. It’s important that we all rise past the taboo associated with Mental health and seek help. A stitch in time saves nine. Let’s just save ourselves from us today.
The writer is a Consultant Psychiatrist based in Imphal and can be reached at email@example.com
Dr Mona Nongmeikapam