For reasons best known to her, our neighbour, a divorcee, hung herself leaving her eight year old son in the custody of her parents. The little child estranged from his father is now without a mother too.
I had often spoken against those who chose the easy way out and committed suicide but after facing a bout of depression not long ago when I too felt defeated, unloved, scared, helpless and hopeless, my views have altered somewhat.
A feeling of incompetence, frustration, unaddressed problems all contribute to a depressed mental state which may lead an individual to take the extreme step of suicide.
The Story Of A Suicide, a book by Sriram Ayer looks into this feeling of helplessness through the story of four youngsters Hari, Charu, Mani and Sam connected to each other through friendship, love, passion, deceit and vengeance.
Each of them has some issues and challenges to face and are susceptible to give in to their troubles seeking a release from pain. Mani struggles with performance in a language which is alien to his humble upbringing. Unable to cope with academic pressures he attempts suicide but is saved at the nick of time.
Sam feels jilted by his successive girlfriends. After his first girlfriend rejects him he feels dejected but soon recovers from his melancholy. His second friend Charu, does not reciprocate physically as much as he desired. A computer fanatic he directs his feelings in plotting revenge on unsuspecting Charu. He hacks into all devices and social accounts of Charu and hatches a plan to shame her through the world of internet.
Charu, a strong girl who speaks her mind finds herself being stalked after a hate rant on social media. Though scared and confused she seeks help with her teacher and cyber crime investigator.
Hari dealing with his sexuality and childhood trauma is unable to express his pain to his parents. He finds love and compassion with Mani. His secret is disclosed in an ugly fashion publicly when instead of Charu the hacked devices of Charu record Hari and Mani in physical intimacy.
In all the heart breaks and repercussions of the public video, Hari succumbs to depression and ends his life.
I could relate to Charu more easily as far as her thought process goes though I found her public rant on social media quite foolish and rash.
A story told in simple language brings out the perceived and real pains of the characters and gives a voice to the youth who face constant comparisons, expectations, peer pressure, intolerance, abuse, relationship demands, sexual choices, job pressures and conflicting family values.
The story though aims to highlight the many challenges that the youth faces today but I would have preferred if the story touched in more detail with issues which each character faces. The story has for major part addressed only the stigma attached to the gay relationships.
After reading the story, I realized how important it is to openly ponder over traumatic, stressful and depressive situations. The feelings and emotions need to be freely discussed with relevant people instead of being bottled inside.
I am a mother to a teenage daughter and it would be my naïvety to believe that in a growing up stage my daughter will never be touched by any of such stressful situations. If I had to suggest the youngsters who have already stepped into the rat race of big bad world, I would tell them to open up…seek advice from elders, from help forums, teachers.
But it is the family which needs to learn the lesson first. Usually the first ever pressure on youth comes from family. Expectations, family pride, constant reminder of ‘what the people will say’ takes a toll on the young mind who is all eager to step into an adult world with dreams and aspirations. Such pressures weigh them down and may push them to break down. The onus are on us, the parents, to see what makes our child happy and gently guide them on right path.
It is us who have to make them believe that we are open to addressing their agony, that we are there to protect them but if the need arises we can reprimand them for a misstep. Rebuking often would however never work. We don’t want them to turn rebellious but have faith in us.
‘Practice what you preach’ and the youth will respect and follow and we might just help a few misguided youngsters to live life instead of snuffing it out in desperation.