This article has been published in The Hindu Nxg. You can read it here

Some questions cannot be answered. Some questions don’t even have answers. ‘Why did he/she commit suicide?’ is one such question.

Earlier, when I read about suicides, though it was none of my business, I used to wonder how selfish those people were. Selfish enough to think of their plight alone and put others in misery. I never use to empathize for those who chose to leave. I used to feel bad for the shocked parents who would be trying to understand what forced their son/daughter to take that extreme step. Everyone has problems. Some people know how to tackle them.  Some people learn how to tackle them by watching others. If everything goes for a toss, of course, there are people who we could ask for help. So I used to think that, perhaps those people were too scared to face the obstacles strewn in their path.

Until one day my perception of this changed. Completely.

Back at high school, there was this senior who was very popular. He was exceedingly intelligent, completely down to earth and very friendly. He was an all-rounder. One look at him, and you would know he was destined for great things in life. And he lived up to all the expectations. He emerged the topper of various entrance exams, he got into the most reputed engineering college in the country. He chased his dreams and went on to pursue his Masters in the US and he was doing Ph.D. He was the kind of person who every mother would hope to have as a son.

Would you ever have thought that a person of such nature would attempt something like a suicide?

He did.

One morning when my mother was reading the paper, she noticed an article about a suicide which had mentioned his name. He was on my Facebook friend list and I immediately navigated to his wall to see thousands of condolences pouring. It took a few minutes to understand what had happened.  His friends had said that he was normal, or at least it seemed so. One day he had left his apartment having kept all his credit cards, ID cards and mobile phone back. His friends were trying to reach him and realized something was fishy when he hadn’t returned their calls. They reached his apartment and realized something was not quite right and informed the authorities who in turn informed the police. If I remember correctly, the next day, a student was found dead on the outskirts of the campus and it was him. The senior I knew. The ever smiling, ever enthusiastic person that we all knew had decided to end his life, for reasons unknown, a day before his birthday.

I wasn’t exactly in touch with him, but he was a blogger too and I remember asking him a few doubts regarding blogging. I was shocked. Completely shocked. It is bad enough that someone you know leaves the world. It is worse if you come to know that the person who left actually had a choice and he still chose to leave. I knew that it couldn’t be happening. Not him of all people. There were probably a million others dreaming the life he was living. And he seemed to be content with what he was doing. You name it and he was an expert in it.  So the next question that popped up was, ‘Why?’.

Why did he choose to leave everything behind and leave?

How could he, the ‘Brightest Indian Student’, the ‘Walking Wikipedia’ and a ‘Scientist-to-be’, have even thought of leaving all his accomplishments, his friends, his family in a split second decision?

It was then that I realized that at moments of extreme depression, nothing matters. Nothing at all. If a person like my senior, having been so highly qualified, could take such a drastic decision, so can anyone. This option is not just for the weak hearted souls, but for anyone.  We can never generalize on that.  I just can’t stop thinking of what would have driven him to take that final decision. One thought, powerful enough to overshadow all the wonderful moments in his life. Just one thought that took him away from the world.

As friends and family, we come across so many people. We might not even be able to recollect the names of a few immediately, but indirectly we come to know and meet a lot of people. The smallest help we could probably do is to offer help to anyone who suddenly or gradually seems to be different from what they usually are for reasons unknown. We might not know them well enough to take it upon ourselves to lend them a helping hand hoping they’d take it, for which we could probably express our concern to those who know the person well. If it is a false alarm, never mind. As long as the person is happy and fine, things should be good.  But, if at all, it was not a false alarm, you would be happy that you actually made a difference to someone’s life and indirectly to the lives of so many others.

When some people are stuck, they shout for help. Some try to sort it out by themselves and if it fails, they ask for help. Some people just refuse to ask anyone directly but would accept help if someone offers to. Some people refuse to ask and even refuse the other person’s offer to help. We never know in which category people around us would fall into. All we know is we can offer to help someone in a small way, hoping they would take our hand.

September 10 is observed as ‘Suicide Prevention Day‘. Hoping that we get to prevent people from taking such drastic decisions. Prayers and wishes!

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