Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Suicide - What's its all about?

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem

Yes! The aforesaid quote means that why commit Suicide for temporary problems? No problem is bigger then a solution.

Dear reader of this article, I am writing this after I was called to make a short film on suicide. Over the years I know many people who have attempted/committed such self-destructive act. 

I strongly feel that any body can get ideas of destroying their life. Psychologists say that one in every three person at one point of time or other has thought of ending his/her life). If you know any person who is either worried, depressed or with constant negative ideas on life, please help them by just listening to them, this is what they need, they need to be heard. Suicide is a very sensitive and emotional cry for help!

In this article you will know basics of Suicide, suicides in history and also the Indian perspective, how to catch the signs of a person who contemplates suicide, myths and facts about suicide and how you can be of major help. Self-destruction as a form of human behavior had existed since time immemorial. 

Generally, suicide refers to destruction of one self, self-killing or in a legal sense - self-murder! The term in English is derived from the Latin words Sui - means one self & cideo means to kill!

Suicide is Universal attitude!

Of course, so strongly all the countries condemn suicide that one can assume this attitude to be universal. But in the past, attitude towards self-destruction have varied widely…Suicide was favorably regarded in Japan particularly in military for the honor and duty. 

The word "Hara-Kari" originated from Japan, the then soldiers killed themselves to avoid defeat or disgrace in the hands of enemy this was practiced till World War II. 

Chinese regarded suicide acceptable norm when committed for the revenge and they considered it a useful device to embarrass the enemy, as they believed that the person who commits suicide, his ghost would haunt the enemy. 

The Old Testament has many examples of suicide, Saul after losing a battle with philistines asked his servant to kill him, when the servant refused Saul fell upon his sword, in New Testament the suicide of Judas is condoned as viewed as an act of repentance. (I still don’t know authenticity of gospel of Judas)

Suicide - Indian perspective.

There are reference of suicide in Vedas and Upanishads. 

During the Vedic period certain types of suicides were approved on religious grounds. 

The epic Ramayana narrates mass suicides by the people of Ayodhya following the demise of Rama and his brothers in Sarayu River. 

Mahabharata mentions about the sati of Madri the wife of king Pandu. Sati or self-immolation form of suicide of a widow following his husband’s death was way common in India. 

In Orissa, persons used to kill them selves by falling under the mighty wheels of the chariot car of Jagannath temple at Puri. While Vedas approved self-sacrifice, Isavasya Upanishad strongly condemned the act. Bhagwat Gita has condemned the act of self-killing as immoral. 

The British banned them by an order in 1802. Social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy took the cause and pleaded with the British to legally ban the practice of Sati. In the year 1829 the British prohibited it and finally in the year 1861, Indian penal code was introduced and self-killing was legally banned.

Classification of Suicides

Suicide can be classified and egoistic suicide and Anomic suicide. 

Egoistic suicide refers to taking away one’s life due to interpersonal problems, lack of close personal identity with others, lack of goals & ideals, ill health. 

While Anomic suicide refers to political crisis, financial difficulties arising due to recessions, crash of stock exchange, markets, bank frauds, or draughts.


I thought it would be interesting to put the findings in my documentary and I have to meet the experts at Roshni - A non-profit organization that helps the people who are depressed of suicidal. Along with those experts and my research on Internet I found some interesting details… 

Did you know that Suicide deaths are less in Islamic countries? And more in Buddhist countries! Highest in Christian countries and highest amongst Males! You bet! More males commit suicide then females around the world. 

According to WHO Suicide is the world’s 3rd largest problem all over the world! (Imagine! anybody can commit suicide say, a person who is suffering from HIV/AIDS or cancer or even martial problems) 

The National Crime Records state that over 1,00,000 cases of suicide are reported in India. 
Every 15 minutes a person is committing suicide in India! 
In 2002 there were 10982 suicides in Tamil Nadu, 11,300 in Kerala, 10,934 in Karnataka and 9,433 in Andhra Pradesh. 
In the year 2003 and 2004 highest number of farmers committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh alone. 
According to the British Journal Lancet, suicide rates among young men and women in southern India are the highest in the world. 
Interestingly, The states of UP and Bihar which have highest population and less literacy report fewer cases of suicides! Kerala, the country’s first fully literate state, has the highest number of suicides. Some 32 people commit suicide every day.

Some of the famous people who have committed suicide

According to psychologist, one in every three person contemplates suicide. 
The author of the best seller - How to win friends and influence people, Dale Carnegie, committed suicide. Hollywood actress Marlin Monroe, playwright Virginia Wolf, Nepal prince Birendra killed royal family and himself. Beauty queen Nafisa Joseph died of Suicide and it’s not only the rich, royals and famous personalities who die of self-destruction but also common people. 
What went through their minds? It leaves mystery and lots of things unanswered.

Suicide - Myths and Facts

Myth- Suicidal people have sorted out in their heads that they want to die.
Fact- the fact is they don’t have solution or they are just want a way of escape.

Myth- I wont talk to my friend who is suicidal coz if I talk about his/her condition or depressive state he may feel more negative and may turn me off.
Fact- People might think it's a good etiquette not to talk about sensitive subject like self destruction to that person, but talking will help them a great deal to ease out their inner trauma or tension.

Myth- I know some people, who just give a warning but never killed themselves, they just wanna scare a hell lot outta people!
Fact: Well, how do they get the idea of ending their life? Many people don’t succeed in their first attempt, they attempt to kill themselves but may fail and they would usually warn someone, hence if you know someone, who’s constantly telling others that he/she may kill oneself, be sensitive to the person.

Emotional outbursts - sign of suicidal tendency

Reader, you may find people who are about to commit suicide may have some emotional outbursts like “ I cant go on” “ life suxx” “Life is a pain, death is peace”

 “I shall show them what I am through my death”
 “I just cant take it anymore” “life is ##@^$*” “death is the answer” or it may totally be opposite, the person may change his behavior to a recluse, he or she may just cease to be normal, say numb!

 Or they may write will, suppose an it may also happen that an elderly lady who lost her husband and has a puppy dog, she may gift it to someone and then commit suicide, so what one has to do is to find out the behavior pattern of that person. If that behavior pattern may change drastically then that is sure sign of suicide

So then what is to be done?

Yes! Suppose you know someone who has self-destructive tendency then personal counseling is the answer. It is just that 20 minutes that makes difference between life and death…when life gets too painful to bear there must be someone to care - your parents, friends or well-wishers. 

Today, many voluntary organizations offer emotional support. Weather one is student or professional, homemaker or executive, young or elderly, male or female one can contact such voluntary organizations. And mind you reader, you may be in any country such organizations offer free emotional support. For example, In my city there is an organization called “Roshni” this wonderful organization offers support to persons who are depressed, lonely or are on the verge of giving up their life.

The Signs: How to read the signs

So reader the question is how to recognize the signs of depression and possible suicide risk. 

The strongest and most disturbing signs are emotional outbursts. 

They talk about death either serious or in joke…Recent loss of loved ones through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, loss of job, money, status, self-confidence, self-esteem, loss of religious faith, loss of interest in friends, hobbies, activities previously enjoyed 

Change in Personality - Reclusive, not taking interest in any daily routine, not sociable, withdrawn and their behavior changes drastically. 

Even the sleeping habits change as they either are awoke all the night or too much of sleeping 

Eating Habits -- loss of appetite and weight, or overeating Diminished Sexual Interest -- impotence, menstrual abnormalities (often missed periods) 

Extreme behavior patterns, going crazy, shouting, over emotional hyper attitude followed by very calm disinterested outlook often withdrawn in short moment of time., feeling worthless, or inner guilt and having no hope for future or no goals in life as they think nothing gonna change anyway as their life wont make any difference. 

Some other cases like a person with HIV or Cancer or substance abuse. Hence these are the signs and one must be sensitive to a person who has such tendencies. 

If you know anyone who has such depressing attitude, keep it in mind that even after the depression is over they are at risk of self destroying, speak to them, listen to them, give a good ear to such people they just want to be heard.

So Reach out

Dear reader, what hurt us, alerts us! 

Blessed are those persons who have gone thru pain and have experienced death and bounced back in life…they understand the value of life. Every one amongst us has to go thru pain. Its difficult to find a person who doesn’t had problems. Why should there be a death reported every 15 minutes? 

Suicide is both psychological and social problem…it is a crisis situation. If immediate help is made to a person who contemplates suicide, it can be avoided. Let us listen to them, Let us be sensitive towards them, and understand the signs…let us bring the suicide rate down by taking it as a collective responsibilityuality of your old age will depend directly upon the quality of contributions you've made in your youth"