Friday, September 11, 2015

Silent Screams...



When a young girl jumped off a building last week, taking her own life, she had apparently researched "89 websites" to find out different means to die. She had considered all the ways of committing suicide, speculating the success rate of each and then zeroing in on jumping from the building. Her Google history showed searches about jumping in front of a train, consuming poison, overdosing on sleeping pills, hanging by a rope, electrocuting herself, drowning etc. She even contemplated about the way she would jump from the building- diving head first or plummeting down it. 

Just reading these gory details, brought a lump to my throat. That a person could be so desperate to end her life, that she saw no other option, no other reason to continue living, was saddening.Could she have lived if someone had heard her silent screams for help? 

Studies say that most people who die of suicide wouldn’t do so if they knew there was an alternative way, something that they cannot see, but if anyone could make them see it, they would understand. They go through enormous amounts of suffering loathing, hopelessness and isolation and all they want is for the pain to stop.

They aren’t asking for help, they aren’t screaming out aloud, so how are we to know if a loved one actually needs help? But just because they don’t ask for it, doesn’t mean they do not need it. Most people lead quite normal lives, and leave their family and friends shocked when they kill themselves. The onus is really on each one of us to spot the warning signs.

Warning signs-

If a loved one says things like, “you’ll be sorry when I’m gone”, “I’m stuck”, “I’m better off dead,” “If we meet again,” I wish I hadn’t been born,” “I can’t see a way out”, whether said casually or seriously, could count as a threat. It is a clue that the person could contemplate suicide.

If someone’s harming oneself or talks about killing oneself, writes a lot about death and dying, seeks out information about ways to die, it could point to major  warning signs about what is going on in their minds.

You have all the more reason for concern if the person is moody, depressed, has previously attempted suicide and suffers from substance abuse, alcohol dependence, bipolar disorder, or family history of suicide.

Another potent warning sign is the person getting their affairs in order, like making a will, giving away prized possessions, calling or visiting unusually to say goodbye, and behaving like they are not likely to see them ever again. Some people may suddenly become happy or calm after prolonged depression, and it could mean that they have decided to end their life.

Some might tend to get withdrawn from family and friends, stop socialising, express hopelessness or worthlessness, guilt, shame, or self-hatred.

How you can help-

If you spot warning signs in someone you care about, do not ignore them. Talk to them. Don’t worry if you read it all wrong. It is better to talk before it is too late than keep quiet thinking about consequences. Ask them if they are harbouring suicidal thoughts. Many people feel that talking about suicide may give them ideas. But the opposite is true. Talking about it gives them hope, it tells them that someone knows their state of mind and is willing to listen and help. Also most people are willing to seek help, they just don’t know how.

Let the person know you are listening. Let them vent their anger, frustrations and despair. Sometimes just talking about it to someone who can lend a sympathetic ear can help them unburden.

Let them know you care. It is important to let the person feel loved and wanted. It is important to let them know that their life matters to you.
  
Let them know there are alternatives. Let them know things will be better and these are temporary feelings. Tell them to hold on.

Help them talk about their problems. Once you know what’s bothering them, find out how you can help. Don’t be judgmental. Be sympathetic and accepting instead. They need to know that whatever is bothering them is not the end of the road. It is just a road block and they can get around it with help.

Never argue with them, or emotionally blackmail them, or lecture them on life and its values, or give advice. That is the last thing they want to hear.

If you are not confident of talking, involve a psychologist, or a crisis line. Never leave the person alone. And make sure they have no access to potential means of suicide, like pills, knives, razors, guns, etc.

A healthy lifestyle change like proper diet, medication, exercise, good sleep and positive reinforcement will help them get back on track. 

Here's an emotional TED talk video by Mark Henick, who has "been there, done that" and survived. He says,  "90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of their death. And with medications and psychotherapy, these treatments work, and so we need to make these treatments more available to people in a more informed way." 

I think, you need to see this...





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10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day. But I think everyday should be one. In whatever way we can, if we can work towards creating awareness, to remove the stigma surrounding suicide, and help more people to call out for help, we could really save precious lives. 


THAT moment...



What do you call that moment, which isn’t quite “the one”,
It’s the one right before it…the penultimate, before the final one…

That moment
      when the steed stands high up in the air, at the cusp of the finish line,
      the race is not yet won, but in a moment it will be fine…

That moment
       When you are holding your partner’s hand in yours, the ring nearing her finger,
      You aren’t yet man and wife, but in a moment you will be together…

That moment,
      when you feel the baby’s crown just about to emerge, the bundle of joy will arrive,
       it has not yet seen the light of the day, but in a moment, it will cry…

That moment,
       when you are standing with your arm outstretched, eyes on the award,
      on the tray, not yet in your hand, but in a moment you will be honored…

 That moment,
         when you see your loved one gasping for breath, perhaps his last ever,
        he is here now looking at you, but in a moment will be gone forever…

That moment,
        when a final glimpse you catch, as slowly chugs the train
        you behold her now, but know, that in a moment, will never see her again…

 THAT, is the moment, most intense of all….
        when the heart beats the fastest, and the breath is as good as gone,
         The fleeting moment that is lost, before you chanced upon…
         it is not your moment of victory or joy, neither of grief or pain or fall,
         The biggest moment of all is the one…you hadn’t thought of at all.    






Saturday, September 5, 2015

Being Human...



Rush hour traffic.

In Bangalore.

Yep. You get the picture, right?

Auto drivers with frayed tempers. You better not get in their way. Neither too close. One tiny invisible scratch and that will probably be your worst day ever!

Two-wheeler riders squeezing through, in between vehicles, trying to get ahead, so that when the signal changes from red to green, they can be the first to take off. Never mind that you still get to meet them again…at the next signal. Not that they can get very far! But the √©lan with which they manage to wedge in between vehicles can put even the humble H2O molecule to shame. Give them just the tiniest of space and you’ll see.

Car drivers changing lanes even before you can spell L-A-N-E. Formula 1 drivers- take note. You have competition!

No, I’m not even mentioning the buses, the tempos and pedestrians. Let’s not even go there!

Just waiting at the traffic signal for 120 seconds seems like the most frustrating wait ever.  You can read ‘hurry up’ written boldly on every single face. And god forbid, if your vehicle fails to start as the signal turns green, you will incur the abuses of every single vehicle standing behind you. Not to mention the incessant honking. It can drive you mad. Literally!

One such rush hour. One such signal. Hundreds of vehicles.

All eyes on the digital count-down board at the signal. 20….19…18…some two wheeler riders have started their squeeze through stunt. Some vehicles idylling, raising, idylling. Some, still waiting for the final countdown. 5…4…3… now, all vehicles are ready to take off. 2..1…No, there’s no vroom. The signal turning green does not mean you can start moving. It could take time, before your vehicle finally gets a chance to move. Ah, yes, the vehicle in front has started to budge. A white Maruti Omni. Just as vehicles behind it begin to inch, it comes to a screeching halt.

Perhaps, it failed to start. But the driver’s not trying to start it again. People behind him are getting impatient. There’s precisely 40 seconds…now 36…before the signal will turn red again. The mad honking has begun. Someone’s even tapping the rear windshield. No, he doesn’t move. There’s a little gap next to Omni, but there’s a huge crater on the road and no one wants to risk driving into it. And then, one brave heart does manage to drive his Yezdi through the patch. Some more brave hearts follow. But then the Yezdi stops too. Now the people behind are really mad. The honking decibel increases and words have turned to screams.

And while everyone still waits, there’s the final countdown to the red signal... 3…2…1…and red. The ignitions go off, honking ceases, and suddenly, strangers have become minute-long friends, cursing the driver of the Omni.

Then we spot her. A heavily pregnant lady, tears in her eyes, being helped into the van, by the driver of the Yezdi and another man, probably the driver of the Omni. A collective sigh, and more rounds of talks. Did the van hit her? Is she injured? Someone points out and then all eyes are on the road, watching the trail of trauma that she has left behind.

Apparently her water’s broken, and she in severe stress. A couple of more people get off their vehicles to help. She’s safely been helped to get inside now, but she’s still weeping and being consoled by a few women telling her everything will be okay. People are back to their own vehicles, it’s time to move on. 

Those who've seen it all, tell us the story. She had been trying to cross the road, when her water broke, and she just stood midway, shocked and not knowing what to do. The Omni could have hit her if he hadn’t applied the brakes. He’s also decided to take her to a nursing home. Now you can see shame on the faces that were cursing the driver only a few minutes ago. Some people doff their imaginary hats to him, while some mumble an inaudible sorry. Some pray that the lady and her unborn be fine, while some proclaim the driver an angel. The paradigm shift that has happened in 120 seconds is unbelievable.

As the signal turns to green once again, the extra 120 minutes doesn’t seem so wasted after all. An unborn child had managed to bring out the humane side of everyone.

If not for weeks, perhaps for a few days we will all be sanely human.



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