Tag: suicide

Suicide Watch

Suicide Watch

Trigger Warning: This post contains thoughts on whether it is possible to identify people who might suddenly be at risk of self-harm or suicide. If this is not a topic of interest, or you are currently not in the frame of mind to read anything stressful, please close this tab.

Many of us experience helplessness when we hear of a suicide. Irrespective of if it was someone we knew, a celebrity, or a businessperson. Especially perhaps, if it was a student, a helpless farmer, or even an unknown name from some obscure corner of the country or the world. The feeling of helplessness still hits many of us.

Last week, there was a brief discussion on chat between some close friends and me. One friend was trying to find cues in old interviews of Sushant Singh Rajput. To see if there were tell-tale signs in them of any impending suicide intent. The authorities were right in saying one should not speculate based on almost no information. The helplessness, however, forces us to look for answers. To find an explanation that would turn helplessness into sadness or anger, or both. The mind prefers either to the state of not knowing coupled with helplessness.

It is also human tendency, to subconsciously look for early warning signs the person might have exhibited.
Maybe it is just our helpless attempt to undo the past.

A few things we need to remember. Firstly, depression is not the only cause of suicide. There are many other causes. They include psychosis and momentary lapses of reason (sometimes induced or aggravated by alcohol or drugs). As are helplessness in situations (a sudden financial loss, etc.), or a mistake. Native Japanese practiced Seppuku to preserve honour or as a form of self-punishment for serious offenses. Secondly, depression itself can have numerous underlying causes for it. And it is not easy for family, friends or outsiders to conclusively arrive at one or more causes for someone’s depression.

A lot of people suffer from a variety of concerns. From regrets about the past, social pressures, anxieties about the future, among many others.

Many simply learn to live with it. Some becoming increasingly numb to life itself. Others probably do not, and toy with self-harm. Some effects could range from binge eating to excessive drinking or drug abuse. And some could manifest as suicidal tendencies. That said, this post is not about identifying or helping address those suffering from depression.

The objective here, something I’ve wondered about, is a possible way to spot someone who might be close to a breaking point in dealing with their personal battles or thoughts or life itself. To see if it there is a way to identify those who might be at risk of self-harm. And to provide an intervention if possible. So that a good life would not be lost because of an unrelenting ecosystem or one’s condition or difficulties in trying to cope with it.

While one can only hope that people suffering from depression are getting the professional support they need, in my limited knowledge, I’d categorize those at risk of self-harm into two categories:
(i) those who have such thoughts from time to time, walking a tightrope; and
(ii) those who may not have considered self-harm, but a sudden change in their ecosystem suddenly makes it an option they consider

My thoughts are around possibly addressing the second kind. If one knows someone who is going through a challenging phase, and one hears of a case of suicide or self harm from someone either known to those people, or hailing from the same or similar professional field or having some other factors in common, one must consider the possibility that these people might be at risk. You could either directly or indirectly reach out even if just to check. Ideally without directly broaching the topic.

There are a few reasons I believe news of self harm by someone sharing common ground could increase risk of self-harm in some people. Firstly, in case of the same or similar professions, many people could be going through similar challenges due to either an employer or a sector slowdown or some other impact. The hundreds of farmers that have sacrificed their lives is a grim example of this. An inefficient sector with limited government support, irrational weather, scavenging money lenders and middlemen, all constantly fuel the recipe for disaster.

Similarly, a student going through a rough phase might be holding on. But on hearing of other instances of students causing self-harm, a previous never considered option might suddenly sound like a respite. Secondly, a common thread connecting two strangers could also cause one to cause self-harm on hearing about the suicide of the other. There have been a number of suicides among common citizens upon hearing of the death (even of natural causes or illness) of their favourite politician or movie star. Here, the thread linking the two is the admiration for their revered minister or actor.

Consider this: Say you had to work on a task that required a good measure of focus and skill. Would you have a greater chance of succeeding if you had an audience cheering you on? Or if the same audience repeatedly cautioned you about the risks of failure?

I think I know your answer. Similarly, words and actions of people have subconscious effects on us. More so if we share some commonality with them. A hostile crowd in a foreign playground might not affect us half as much as a hostile crowd on our home ground.

So, what can we do to intervene? While not easy, one can sometimes spot people in one’s circles who are going through a challenging phase. Even if they don’t directly tell us. We could then try reach out to them or increase the support ecosystem for them. To try and lighten the burden or ease off the scales, which might be at dangerous levels. Or we could refer or bring to them the professional support needed.

Here’s an earlier post, Death and the Maiden, where I shared some variables that might compel someone to cause self-harm.

And here’s a very well thought out post you must check out. It’s by The Depression Project, about telling signs.

Thoughts and ideas welcome!

The Farmer Murders


The Farmer Murders

A farmer committed suicide at an AAP rally, and the hypocritical Mr. ‘Aam Aadmi’ Kejriwal didn’t let that stop his rally.

Policemen on scene laughed, as an AAP volunteer tried to save the farmer.

In the last year, the PM has been building foreign relations like there’s no tomorrow, while thousands of farmers back home stare blankly into what seems like a ‘no tomorrow’.

Remember that joke about a signboard at a hotel that went, ‘In case of a fire, leave the building before tweeting about it.’
That goes for Narendra Modi too. Save the farmers instead of simply tweeting your condolences and sadness.

This murder too shall pass, as the parties get busy pointing fingers at each other; while farmers will reconcile to the fact that it isn’t mother earth that failed them, but their very own countrymen.



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Death and The Maiden

Death and The Maiden
 “Tonight’s happy song, kinda like a walk in the park ..the sun coming through the window in the morning on a beautiful day… and you have nothing better to do than commit Harakiri, so…is this? Alright. This is called..Estranged..”
– Axl Rose, at a GnR Live Concert 

Last morning I woke up to the news of young starlet Jiah Khan’s suicide. Possibilities and reasons were many. But whichever way you looked at it, the 25-year old hanging herself came as a shocker to most of us.

Now, to be honest, I have probably watched her in 1-2 movies, and even though she acted well and was very beautiful, I wasn’t exactly a fan.

But news of her death triggered a discussion with a close friend of mine, about what drives people to commit suicide. My friend was of the view that suicide is a cowardly way to go, irrespective of the magnitude of the battles one fights.

I used to be of that exact view until a few years ago. But along the way I realized I was wrong. Reading about similar suicides generated a curiosity. Questions like what factors could result in someone even considering suicide, can it be avoided, and what leads someone to intentionally race toward an eventuality that even the bravest of us fear and dread. Death.

“People fear death even more than pain. It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over. Yeah, I guess it is a friend.”
– Jim Morrison

While I was in college, my mom bought me a t-shirt that read ‘Life’s tough..but I haven’t hit the Panic button yet.!’

In light of why I’m writing this post, that line on the tee somehow doesn’t seem as amusing as it used to. Anyway, I boiled my thoughts down to 5 factors that I believe influence a mental imbalance, which in turn results in somebody ‘hitting the Panic button’ (here’s my definition of it, and let’s just call it ‘Panic’ for simplicity. And if you’re wondering, yeah you too can make definitions of your own).

Panic: a reaction to a combination of the 5 internal and external factors that could manifest itself either in a

  • defensive way (nervous breakdowns, depression, suicidal tendencies, etc.), or offensive way (bursts of anger and rage, attacking people, etc.). Signs for both need to be identified and avoided.

Now here are the 5 internal & external factors which cause someone to ‘lose it’:

  • the situation or circumstance: tough boss, harassment, etc.
  • importance given to the situation: whether a situation or person affects you strongly, or you are indifferent to it
  • duration of the situation:
  • the strength or resilience: how much of a situation can you handle before you throw in the towel
  • a balancing factor(s): someone or something that helps you cope with a difficult situation (family, friends, pets, hobbies or work)

And the math for these factors works something like this.

On the left, you have three negative factors, and two positive factors on the right.


That seesaw is mental stability. As you’re looking at it right now, the objective is to always keep the seesaw tilted to the right (where things go between well and manageable). The moment it levels off or tilts left, you’ve got a problem.

So whether it is you, or someone close to you, you have to be observant and aware of how strong you or that person are, how much they can take, and where you or they might need someone to step in (a balancing factor) to keep the seesaw tilted right. There are some problems one can overcome alone. For others, you have the option of facing it with a balancing factor, or of getting out of the situation (quitting a job, getting out of a strained relationship, escalating a matter at work, etc.) But whatever the factor, you need to understand what the problem is, how you are holding up, and what you need or might need to do if it continues. But you have to do something about it. And let’s not lose any more people to the swinging of the seesaw.

“I am troubled, immeasurably
 by your eyes.
 I am struck by the feather
 of your soft reply.
 The sound of glass
 speaks quick, disdain
 and conceals
 what your eyes fight
 to explain.”
 - Jim Morrison


Look forward to your views. And if you liked this one, consider following/subscribing to my blog (top right of the page). You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

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