<b>Slice of life:</b> End of unhappiness
Unlearn a few things to live life without regrets — stop putting undue emphasis on success, become more accepting of yourself and start letting go
A54-year-old plastic surgeon, Dr Ashok Raj Koul, who is known for advanced surgeries like such as reconstruction of breast and Brachia Plexus injuries, committed suicide on Thursday by jumping off the 10th floor of his residential apartment complex in Bangalore. His colleagues were shocked. He was supposed to have performed two surgeries later that day. He is survived by his wife, who is also a doctor, and two daughters, one studying abroad and the other a student of class 10. In another incident, a 76-year-old retired bank manager leapt to his death from his ninth floor apartment. His wife said he had been depressed over his failing health because of his age.
Each year, around the time of the declaration examination results, there are a few cases of student suicides reported. For some time, there is anguish expressed over social media as well as in newspapers and television, about how we should not pressurise our young people about their academic results. The furore dies down after a few days, only for the whole saga to play itself out the following year, this time with different names, different faces.
One of the suicide prevention websites snehaindia.org states that in India, 1,00,000 people commit suicide each year, and every five minutes, someone in India attempts to commit suicide, making it the third major cause of death. They also dispel myths about suicides, one of the biggest being that people, who commit suicide do not talk about it. The fact is people do talk about it, and anyone who mentions it, should be taken seriously. Also it is a myth that most suicidal people have absolute intent of dying. The fact is they take a gamble with death and are ambivalent about living. If the moment passes, they can be saved as they may retain a desire to live. Also, just because someone has attempted to commit suicide, it does not mean that they will remain suicidal forever. In many the suicidal thoughts never return. Everybody who attempts to kill himself or herself is not mentally ill, though some might be. A suicide attempt just indicates deep unhappiness. Suicide also does not happen without warning. Most suicidal people give indications of their intent with words or actions, but the ones closest to them, miss the cue.
There are many suicide helplines functional in India and the phone lines are open 24x7. They are manned by volunteers, who are trained for the same. Anyone who is willing to spend a couple of hours every week, can volunteer. Some of them specify that you have to be in a certain city in India, to be a volunteer. However, one of the helplines, onelife.org.in says that you can register and help out in various capacities, even if you can only volunteer from home.
Statistics reveal that the leading cause of people wanting to commit suicide in India was family problems, closely followed by illness. Marriage-related issues and love affairs came next. Financial burdens were also a significant cause.
As a society, we place undue emphasis on ‘success’. Most Indian parents stress on academic excellence telling their children that in order to do well, it is absolutely essential to score good marks in the board exams. We, as a society, are also guilty of being non-accepting of deviance from usual norms. If someone has a deep desire to do something very different from what anybody else has done, they are met with ridicule.
I would measure success by how happy and healthy a person is, rather than by his bank balance. Money can buy you the most luxurious things — foreign vacations, holiday homes, private jets. It can get you a luxury spa, but it cannot get you an accepting, positive attitude. That is something, each of us have to cultivate in ourselves, by taking one positive step at a time.
We tend be very harshly critical of ourselves, applying rigid standards, and constantly feeling inadequate when these are not met. I have heard remarks such as ‘I am stupid’, ‘I am an idiot’ being thrown around casually for even small things like forgetting to take something. One way to change this is to ask yourself whether you would speak to a friend, the way you speak to yourself. If the answer is a no, then you ought to change. We need to be more accepting of ourselves. We need to love ourselves a bit more, and we need to learn to let go. Only then can we escape the extreme emotional pain caused by our minds.

(Preeti Shenoy is the author of eight bestselling books,the latest being a
fiction titled It’s All In The Planets)
Preeti Shenoy