Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lives that long for family support

Recently in Bangalore there was a very tragic incident. A youth, Ramesh, accidentally hit his car against the car of the former prime minister and local Janata Dal (S) politician, Deve Gowda. The accident happened in the morning, but by evening the young man, Ramesh, had committed suicide.

What actually led him to take his own life will remain a mystery, for he is no longer with us to tell the story. But from reports it looks like Ramesh had come under severe mental and emotional stress.

One, soon after the incident, Ramesh, was subjected to severe tongue-lashing by the politician's security guard. Two, Ramesh was asked by Gowda's supporters to cough up Rs 25,000. He managed to give Rs 10,000. Three, Ramesh's brothers and sisters severely reprimanded him for having invited trouble by having rammed his car, against the car -- of all people -- the former prime minster. "How can we now live in peace," they are said to have asked. (Report in The Times of India.)

What a tragedy for the family. The car can be repaired -- but a precious life has been needlessly lost. What's more distressing than the loss of life is the way it has been lost. If someone had to end his life after an accident like this, one can imagine the extent to which he must have been driven to.

Suicides aren't uncommon. There have been many reports by many organisation telling us how it's on the rise. More than actual suicides are the 'tendency for suicide' and 'contemplations of suicide'. And, these don't get reported unlike actual suicides.

Our society severely lacks support mechanism. Hardships and tensions are part of everyone's everyday life. What we need badly is a system to help people overcome this. And, the rising numbers of suicides is a clear indication of the lack of a support system.

While religious and spiritual teachings of both old-age epic characters and new-age gurus can definitely be made use of, I think, immediate family members are the ones who can best give a person emotional solace. Home, sweet home. Home is where one runs to when in trouble, and when the doors there too are shut where can one run to?

Of course, this is easier said than done. It's often the family that comes under the biggest strain. And, for the same reason, I must say, the responsibility on the family too is that much big.

One argument is that it's very natural for family members to break down, and probably even say something that's very hard to take, like: "you have brought shame to our family", "what is the use of living like this", "it's better to go and hang somewhere than leading a shameful life", etc.

But, today going by the intense stress and strain we all live under, it's the responsibility of each one of us, to make sure that in moments of stress and strain, we don't say or do something that only worsens the situation rather than improve it. Outbursts like the ones I mentioned earlier, may be natural, but are very negative and help no one in any way. If no positive move can be made, it's very important to make sure that at least no negative move is made.

It's words like the one's like I quoted above, that finally lead people to end their lives. They feel that even the last straw they can clutch on to in the world has been lost. They flounder and in an impulsive step go over the edge.

Instead of saying those hurting words, probably one can just be with him or her at those moments. Words of assurance, words that the world is not going to crash, words like: you are not alone, we are with you, don't worry, just be calm, there's nothing that can't be sorted out... etc can work wonders and actually give a new life to someone in distress. It is tough, I agree; but doing that tough act is such a small effort when one realises what has been achieved in the process.

So, next time you see someone close to you driven to a corner, distressed and shattered; please, don't make things worse for him by blaming and heaping abuses. Just lend a helping hand, so he can hold on to your hand. One doesn't know, may be, it's a life that you are saving. Even if not, at least you won't regret not having helped.


  1. Pradeep, I think I know exactly what goes on in the minds of people who contemplate suicide. Years ago, I have seriously contemplated suicide too... absolutely sure that I was a loser! But you know, it takes a lot of courage to be able to take ones own life.. I just couldn't do it! Looking back I feel that I was probably immature and foolish. Now I do focus on spending time with people who have suicidal tendencies and try to bring them out of their emotional turmoils. It gives me great satisfaction to see the persons that I have counselled become cheerful self-respecting individuals, like me!

    very true! if the family is there to understand and stand by many accidents can be avoided!

    @ vidhya,
    i think you are doing a very great thing by helping out and transforming people's lives!

  3. That was indeed a shocker. that boy must have been very troubled both by the event and events of the past, this must have been the 'pusher off the cliff'...

    yes, you are right, counselling services would have helped.

    Vidhya - like nanditha said, it is admirable that you have taken a step forward to help, most of us on the other hand are all just aye aye nay nay sayers..

  4. Pradeep, You have brought out so many issues in this one article...
    Attitude of high profile people
    fear of common man
    family ties
    Wonder how the family members are coping up with the unexpected tragedy? They too need counselling I feel.

  5. That is a very sad story. People definitly needs their loved ones's support in moments like this, but I think the tragedy is deeper than that. Why is suicide such an easy alternative in India? We should address the roots of the problem.

  6. suicides are always sad. sadder when a young life is lost, which probably could have been saved if emotional support was given at the right time, by people who have cared and nurtured that life all along. but as pradeep says, the whole family was shattered by this incident and the boy ramesh could not have received such a support from within the family at that time. they were all dazed, coming from a middle class family, by the fear of what would happen to the family for having earned the wrath of ex-PM of the country?! they were shattered by the enormity of the situation, more so when the 'chelas' of the exPM started hounding them demanding huge money to set right the damages done to the car. now, has anybody from exPM's family come forward to set right the damage done to this boy's family??? that is sadly india today.

    i strongly suggest that suicide prevention helplines should be popularized by all media of communication all over the country, in every nook and corner of india. the suicide prevention helpline in Bangalore is 2549 7777 run by an organization called sahai. i feel the helpline number should be made simpler, easy to remember by anybody, like how we all know 100 is police department.

    i am a counsellor too like vidhya and i appreciate the courage with which she has admitted her own foolish decision that she had made long time ago and how she has moved forward in life rendering emotional support to many in need. keep up the good work, vidhya! it gives us the greatest satisfaction to know that somewhere some life was saved in the nick of time, by just being there for them in that critical hour. i do visit educational institutions and give talks to spread awareness among student community about prevention of suicides.

    the incident quoted by pradeep was an unfortunate impulsive decision taken by the boy when driven to the corner. such incidents can be prevented only through imparting life-skill education at schools and colleges that needs to be taken up on a war footing.

  7. "One, soon after the incident, Ramesh, was subjected to severe tongue-lashing by the politician's security guard. Two, Ramesh was asked by Gowda's supporters to cough up Rs 25,000. He managed to give Rs 10,000. Three, Ramesh's brothers and sisters severely reprimanded him for having invited trouble by having rammed his car, against the car -- of all people -- the former prime minster. "How can we now live in peace," they are said to have asked"

    This was discussed in another blog. Gowda should hang his head in shame (if he knows the meaning of the word) and this shows clearly the ever hidden ugly side of Indian politicians. This young man's life became expendable for the sake of peace.

  8. OMGoodness! What a tragedy. Yes, I agree with you about the family's role. If we cannot offer solace even to our near and dear ones, whom else can we hope to support?