Jaan hai to jahan hai
Dr Shrirang Joshi
“The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.” – Anonymous
God has gifted us a wonderful life. What makes some people throw away the most precious thing they have? And what can we do to prevent suicides?
It has to be a concerted effort of all; parents, teachers, friends, mental health professionals, and the entire society.
Let us identify and understand the most common situation which may act as a trigger.
Actual or perceived loss of something valuable:
A person, who is in love, invests so much energy into building the relationship that when it breaks, the person is shattered. He/She cannot envision a life without that relationship. Such a person is disturbed and at risk of getting depressed and committing suicide. In most cases, he/she cannot share it with parents as they may have different values and they may not be supportive. He/She may share with friends, but they may be ill-equipped to help. At times, such students need professional help to vent out their feelings and to cope with their emotional pain and loss. Some students do not approach a counsellor because of the societal stigma attached to it.
Exam results can be another trigger for students developing suicidal ideas. Most students equate failure with a loss of face or a hopeless future. They cannot face such ‘disgrace’ or ‘hopelessness’. They cannot share their emotional pain with their parents as they may fear the scolding of parents. They need to be told and convinced that failure is a part of everyone’s life and there can be good life beyond the worst failures.
1] Denial: Most parents are in denial about the possibility of mental health issues affecting their child. They need to be aware of mental health issues, be alert to their child’s situation and respond appropriately to it.
2] Being Judgemental: Parents may have a different value system. It may not allow them to be supportive of their child facing relationship issues or academic failures. Parents should not be judgemental. They need to be sympathetic to the children’s issues.
3] Failing to understand the severity: Even if parents identify and acknowledge their children’s mental health issues, they may fail to estimate the severity of the situation. They may brush it off as a mild issue and may not take the required action.
Do’s for parents:
It is extremely important to develop a rapport with your children. We all know that spending time with children and having good communication with them is critical for their growth. But many parents get engaged in their daily life and are unable to find the required time. A good rapport will allow the youngsters to unhesitatingly discuss the issues which they may be facing. A parent should also be alert to any behavioural changes in the child. A parent should not hesitate to take professional help when needed.
The role of society:
Society plays an important role in shaping our mindset. It relates to physical pain and emotional pain differently. Physical pain is considered real as it is visible, whereas emotional pain is considered unreal since it is not visible. Society allows us to talk about physical pain, whereas it is taboo to talk about emotional pain. Physical pain is considered as due to some illness, whereas emotional pain is considered due to some weakness of that person. Society allows and encourages us to consult doctors for physical pain but discounts mental health issues and discourages to consult doctors for emotional pain.
Let us all work towards creating a society which is supportive to people having emotional pain. The stigma of visiting a mental health professional should be eradicated. I want everyone to realise that there is a wonderful life beyond the momentary feeling of hopelessness and despair. Kyu ki……
Jaan hai to jahan hai!!!
Dr Shrirang Joshi is a psychiatrist and counsellor attached to Somaiya Vidyavihar campus