I have been going through a lot of posts and a lot of people saying stuff about mental health, suicidal tendency, and about what happened recently. I have a few things to share here.
- Stop romanticizing/glamorizing depression.
- Please be there for someone in need.
Having said that, it’s necessary to talk about why suicide attempts and ideation occur. It’s important to destigmatize the suffering of those who may be shouldering their pain in silence. It’s important to be mindful of how we treat those who choose to share their struggles and to be mindful that not everyone may be as open in coming forward or reaching out for help.
A lot of people have been critiquing Mr. Rajput’s decision of committing suicide and also feel that killing oneself is selfish, foolish and a sin. I don’t support suicide either. But, I know what it feels like and why one would want to kill himself/herself. We have to understand that suicidal people aren’t acting out of selfishness on the contrary, they often feel that the world would be better off without them. They may be suffering through extreme depression, feelings of isolation, mental health issues, feelings of worthlessness, existential crisis, shame and a strong desire to end the pain they’re going through.
So the next time you feel tempted to say something related to these issues in a judgemental or guilt-tripping way or make a comment on someone’s decision to end their life, “Why did he/she do something like this!?”, remember that their willingness to leave everything behind is actually an indication of how severe their suffering and pain must be.
Don’t tell them they are being selfish, foolish, or say, “But you have so much to live for!” or “How could you even think that way!?” Yes, they do have a lot to live for, but the truth is, someone who is suicidal is not in the state of mind to feel that way and this can come across as invalidating. Invalidation and judgment can cause this person to further withdraw, feel like more of a burden on their family and loved ones, and feel ashamed of their feelings.
Instead, do let them know that you’re there for them if they need it. Do tell them that you care and love them. Do make them feel like they matter and that their recovery matters. Suggest helpful and vetted resources if they need them. Spend time with them. Make time for them. The key is to remind them that their existence is valuable and has a positive impact, without making them feel guilty or ashamed about their authentic emotions.
Again, supporting them doesn’t necessarily mean the person in question feels that way. The reality they may be living in might be quite different from the way you perceive their life from the outside. It’s easy, for instance, to look at a successful, seemingly outgoing and happy person and think that they are doing okay. But we never know what someone is going through or what is the reason behind his/her actions.
I’ve been there. I know what it feels like. I still get into that phase sometimes. Believe me, most often being mentally unwell, not even my mother who I’m the closest to, is able to handle me. Until you’ve been in the shoes of a suicidal person or someone who is going through depression or mental health issues, it is extremely difficult and also not your job to discern how excruciating their pain might feel.
(Author is a Bollywood singer & performer. Views expressed are personal)