Newton’s first law of motion — In an inertial frame of reference, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force. And, when force is applied to a fast-moving object, it will suffer a shock impact. Suicide is like suddenly applying breaks in a vehicle which is moving fast. Depending upon the size of the vehicle, as a result of the sudden braking, the vehicle will inevitably tumble over and cause damage to the vehicle, its occupants and vehicles around it as well causing collateral damage. Best way to apply break safely is to reduce the speed and then brake gently gradually. Our mind is just like a fast-moving vehicle, try to apply the brakes suddenly, and the damage to self and others around you will be irreparable. Suicide surely will bring an end to your problem (s) abruptly but make no mistake about it that it is the beginning of the issues for others left behind by you. No matter what the reason is; suicide is wrong, rash and unethical. Ending life is easy; fighting it, living through it is challenging but definitely achievable.
Last few days have been quite difficult for our entire family. A few days ago, we had lost one of our youngest family members to something unknown. A brilliant twenty-something at the top of his career with bright prospects decided to suddenly end his own life leaving his immediate family members with a million dollar question; why did he do it? With virtually no financial problem in the family and a perfectly normal life right before he did it, this seemed like a never-ending mystery; but it wasn’t. As we all got over the grief and sadness, it became apparent that this was not a snap decision and neither did it happen suddenly. This might have been lurking inside him for a long time. He may have tried to control it in his way by doing different things before it became too much for him to handle, and he decided to take the extreme step on a fateful day. We came to know this after we went through his notes and because he kept these notes to himself, nobody around him knew anything. Wish he could’ve reached out.
He was a brilliant boy, a keen learner and also an avid reader. So, brilliant he was that he learnt Spanish while sitting at home during the lockdown. So, what went wrong? Did his brilliance have the best of him? Were there any external factors which led him to do it? Why didn’t he reach out to someone if he had this in him for a long time? So many unanswered questions and so much can be interpreted from reading his notes. He may not have been expressive with people around him, but his notebook was full of notes giving a glimpse into his mindset. His writings were fantastic & anyone who doesn’t know him personally couldn’t guess his age. Everyone who read his writings thought that these were written by someone quite mature, but when I shared his actual age, they all were shocked. So, he was more mature than his age, than what led him to take such a drastic step?
While writing this article, another person took this extreme step in my circle and ended his life. Again, the same situation; a perfectly normal happy person taking this extreme step but in this case, he was in his mid-’30s. He had a steady job which even sustained the turbulent lockdown times. He had a happy family, including kids, so, what went wrong?
For obvious reasons I can’t disclose specifics about both the cases but something common in both instances is that ‘CLOSURE’ will be difficult for those left behind. No matter how deeply we study the notes, the first-person account of a human mind will always be missing. No matter how expertly people examine both the cases, the mystery of what went inside their minds will forever remain oblivious, and this would leave people like me restless for the rest of our lives. Anything that we deduct from his notes will always be inconclusive. Even a ‘case study’ worth thousands of words with detailed ’CAUSE ANALYSIS’ can’t give apt ‘CLOSURE’ to the loved one’s leaving them with the ‘WHY’ forever. Just in case you are wondering if people in question might have a mental disorder than know this that in the first case the kid went through extensive psychological profiling & testing before every trip he took by experts from the field. Hence, if there were anything amiss, it would’ve been caught.
Without a ‘CLOSURE’ the grief in the people left behind will increase tenfold and harm them as well. Not to mention the innumerable burden his father felt when he had to carry his son’s mortal remains for immersion into the river Ganga. All these are irreparable, and a ‘CLOSURE’ will always be elusive.
Consider this; my father passed away seven years ago, and the last few days before he passed away, he was on a ventilator. The ventilator tubes in his mouth prevented him from talking so he would communicate with us through eye movement and hand gestures only. I still haven’t moved on because I keep thinking as to what he wanted to speak in his last few moments. I have learnt to live with this mystery, but it doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t hurt me because my father was quite unwell before he died so, I know why he died. ‘Life starts with birth and ends with death,’ the reality no one can escape, so I have no regrets concerning my father’s death. But, this kind of ‘CLOSURE’ is missing when someone living normally and happily commits suicide.
But, I am not here to talk about the ‘WHY’ instead, I am here to talk about the ‘HOW’ of suicide prevention. Though I am not a psychologist or an expert in suicide prevention but being part of the training and education field for quite some time, I have dealt with my fair share of people of all ages going through anxiety, depression and addiction. I too have battled depression, anxiety and addiction, and to some extent I still do, so through this article, I wanted to discuss something which has worked for me. These points are for ‘SELF’ because it is my analysis that even if others had tried to prevent it, they would have still taken this extreme step. Unless and until the will to live comes from within the person, nothing else matters.
Firstly I wanted to discuss Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” here for a moment before discussing anything further:
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans’ innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Not getting into a detailed
discussion about the whole hierarchy, I only wanted to highlight the stage on the top; Self-actualisation, which is about achieving one’s full potential.
This is point number 1 of this article. *Disclaimer — All that I discuss here is based upon my own experiences and may or may not work for others & nor do I claim to be an expert in suicide prevention. So, if you chose to follow what I have written then do so at your discretion.
FIND A PURPOSE — The reason I wanted to mention about Maslow’s ‘Self-actualisation’ stage is that it can also lead to a mind without any purpose. Not all people take extreme steps because of a lack of something in their life; some might even take this drastic step because they have achieved everything, and now they have nothing better to do. While most experts I have discussed with feel that this stage sets in the people of the higher age group or at least in someone who have achieved something in their life but what if someone reaches this stage while they are in their twenties? Looking at the first case; a brilliant young man with the acumen of a grownup person and a grey matter bright enough to learn even a language while sitting at home, could he have reached this stage so early? A mind without a purpose can be as dangerous as a mind with depression or anxiety or any mental disorder. Give yourself a purpose, a target, a task. Keep your mind occupied. Writing keeps me occupied and also gives me a purpose every day. Had I not started writing, I would have gone bonkers. Writing is a medicine that keeps my mind sane. Find your purpose, your target, your aim and give your mind something to look forward to every day. Avoid the ‘been there done that’ attitude. Even if you feel that you have nothing more to learn or do, do old things differently but do give your mind a task every day and make sure mind keeps moving because an empty mind is a devil’s house.
THE WORLD IS NOT FAIR — Stop b******g about life, it’s never going to be fair. If you can digest this fact, then most of your problems are already gone. Learn to deal with this fact, and you will go a long way in life and not the easy way, aka suicide.
REACH OUT –Humans can’t read minds, so if you don’t share or show any signs of stress, then no one can help you. Reach out to whoever you are connected to or even a third person but staying quiet and not sharing will only make it worse. If you let it remain in your mind for too long, it will take control of your mind sooner or later. If you don’t feel comfortable talking, then write show emotions, but do show and share that you are not alright. Suicide is not a solution it is, in fact, the beginning of a new problem for those who are left behind to contemplate the reason for someone else’s rash action. Share before it’s too late. Seek help before others suffer because of your uncontrolled actions. Vent out your anger and frustration somewhere; boxing is an excellent way to vent out anger. There are other ways as well, only if you seek them.
NO SHAME IN SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP — There is a taboo around the whole seeking professional help thingy when it comes to mental health issues. What will people think? How would my family react if I told them that I am visiting a psychologist? These thoughts keep most of away from seeking professional help. Trust me, they know the stuff, and they can really help. No other taboo is bigger, scarier, nastier and unethical than suicide. So, if you wish to avoid this taboo than do seek professional help.
MAKE CONNECTIONS — Our brains have been hardwired to make connections. If you think you have issues making connections, one on one, then use technology and find ways to make connections online. One of the young lads I know is a very good friend with his father, but only on Facebook. He discusses everything from his problem to studies to friends to even his girlfriends with his father through chat, but when they are at home, they are strangers. Reach out to your connections, directly or indirectly, when in distress. Technology is more than just a tool to make only awkwardly irritating Tik Tok videos, use it to connect.
FAMILY COMES FIRST — This is quite old fashioned and must be quite awkward for some but trust me it works. It can be even fun, try it. Connect with family more than anyone else, especially your parents. When I needed it the most, I found unconditional support from my family and that has always helped me through tough times. I too had a life where friends were more important than family, but I realised it the hard way and turned things around for good before it got worse. Even with families getting smaller and smaller and people living individually, this is still possible.
LEARN TO DEAL WITH TOXICITY — People say that you need to get away from toxic and negative people. Well, guess what? Getting away is not possible for all. We need to learn to live with such people by deflecting their negativity away from us. Jamaal Bowman is the perfect example of someone who didn’t have any other option to live and grow in a toxic environment yet come out as a winner. Do some research, and you can find more about his life. There are other role models as well from the field of entertainment, sports, politics etc. who have overcome adversities to achieve something in life read about them.
STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM RELIGIOUS BABBLING — Religion and I don’t go hand in hand so; you can choose to ignore this part if you don’t agree with it. I have always felt that religion is an evil that has always plagued humanity, and anyone going through depression, anxiety or any other sort of mental issue must stay away from every form of religion. And, it’s not because religion itself or our gods are wrong; it’s just the way religion has been interpreted by the so-called experts and used to create chaos that puts me off. Also, the interpretation by you during a troubled phase can also be questionable. So, I always choose to stay as far away as possible away from religion in the event of me having any issues which could push me to do something wrong.
I believe that we all are capable of making choices, good or bad. I always believe that ‘SELF’ is the key to solve any issue, so my article doesn’t cover anything about external factors such as family members or friends having to identity if anyone in their family is under stress or not. That is a separate topic; firstly show some sign so that others can catch those signs.
Know this that when you are gone the members of the ‘blame-game brigade’ are going to pound on your family members and friends torturing them, making them feel guilty about something ‘YOU’ did without their knowledge. So, give your mind a purpose and a hope, reach out and seek help with your connections (if not your family then someone outside your family) if your mind is giving you the slightest of the signs about ending your life. The most effective ‘CLOSURE’ must be you finding ways to ‘CLOSE’ all your issues and finding a way to live on.
Remember… ending life is easy, but the real test of bravery is to find ways to live on…
Originally published on https://jasveersinghdangi-87442.medium.com/the-closure-the-after-effects-of-a-suicide-473485bb4755