Suicide: How You Can Help

Guest Post by Pragmatic Dreamer


“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”

― Tiffanie DeBartoloHow to Kill a Rock Star

There are so many articles, movies, TV shows, Cartoons, experts, doctors and so many people who talk about what Suicide is.
They say how unnatural & selfish the person who commits suicide is, they say that they should’ve just asked for help, they say they don’t think of anyone else but themselves, they say they’re just stupid or that they just wanted attention.

I’m just another person to tell you what it really is. What you really feel at that moment you want to just die.

I can tell you that, it’s not like that moment when you say I’ve had such a bad day, I want to die. No, it isn’t that moment when your grades are low that one exam & you want to just die. It isn’t when your bills came out so high that month, you want to die.

No, that isn’t what it is.

It’s days, weeks & months of pain,
Pain that takes you to point when you can’t feel anything
It’s pain that drags you to a corner
And makes you hate everything and feel nothing
It repeats the bad stuff over & over & over

It’s when you push the good stuff away
It’s when you know you’re a burden
When the smallest of mistakes make you feel like a loser

It’s the constant pain
Just & only pain

It’s days of being underwater with no way out
It’s days of hating yourself
It’s days of breathing with your ‘heart under attack’
It’s days of your brain telling you to quit
It’s days of people telling you to go away
It’s days of bullying
It’s days of being called a ‘loser’
It’s days of crying & suffering

It’s days of no one smiling at you
It’s days of no one asking you “How are you?”
It’s days of no one caring for you
It’s days & days of torture within the core of your very being

It’s days of knowing it won’t matter if you’re alive anyway

So, it’s better off, being dead instead.

There are about 800,000 people who die by suicide every year(1.4% of all deaths worldwide). I say die here, but there are many, many more who attempt it. According to WHO, “There are indications that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide.”*  

So what are some signs that a person wants to commit suicide?

1. They stop being themselves – by this I mean, they don’t dress like they used to, or miss classes & take too many off days at work, they don’t work like they used to, they don’t enjoy the things they used to, you see a dramatic loss or gain in their weight etc.

2. They seem erratically happy, by giving away their favorite possessions, a big party etc.

3. They say things like: “It’s better if I’m not around”, “Soon you won’t see me around”, “Things will be okay, I won’t be around anyway”, “I can’t seem to work on this like I used to before”, “I just didn’t feel like doing this”….

(Remember, just because they said this once doesn’t mean their suicidal. Look for signs, most of them overlap. It isn’t just one thing, it’s usually a mix of multiple things.)

How can you help?

I’ll try & keep this brief. There are links to more detailed articles at the bottom to address this question.

The first thing you need to remember is, you cannot wish their problems away. The only thing you can do is provide support & help & take them to the necessary counsellors or psychologists who have the professional means & knowledge of helping them.

Ask them if they are planning to kill themselves. (Yes, you have to ask this. And believe me, it’s hard when you actually have to ask.)

If they say yes, ask them, how are they planning to do it, when and where?

If they answer these questions, don’t react in a condescending manner, instead just tell them that you feel terrible that they wish to take their life & that you want to help. Ask them if they will be okay if you call a hotline, a person they trust or take them to a specialist etc. They shouldn’t be left alone.

(You can do the above even when they say no.)

One of the main things to remember is to stay calm & speak to them in a calm but assertive voice. All you have to do is listen – non-judgmentally.

Note: Education is key. The more you educate yourself on Mental Health Issues & Suicide, the better equipped you would be.

For more info, please see these articles:

Related post from IHM:

—————————————————————————————————————–From Priya:

Suicide doesn’t just happen to “other people”.  It could be someone right next to you – a friend, a coworker, a kid in your neighborhood.  If we are aware, maybe we can help this someone.  Often when suicide happens in their midst, people feel shocked because they never suspected anything.  Sometimes they feel guilty for not having reached out, because they did notice some signs but were not sure what to do.  It is important therefore, to know how to help, if you suspect something.  Thank you to Pragmatic Dreamer for raising awareness regarding this.

Sharing from readers:

  • Are you concerned about someone around you being suicidal?
  • Do you know someone who attempted suicide?  What helped in their situation
  • Have you contemplated suicide?  Have you sought help?
  • Have you overcome your suicidal feelings?  Please describe the process/journey you went through.
  • If you have direct experience with the situation (you yourself have contemplated suicide or know someone close who has been through it) please do share, so we can add it to this post.  There is nothing more valuable than hearing from someone who has actually been through it – so please do not hesitate to share (anonymously if you want).

“If one of the parties wants a divorce, it should be granted irrespective of who’s “fault” it is.”

Do the Indian laws meant to protect women’s rights actually ‘baby’ women? Do you think that women should not be able to stop a husband from divorcing them if he does not want to stay married to them? If one of the parties wants a divorce, it should be granted…?

Some points to consider.

1. Many Indian families marry their sons, with massive dowries. Either before, or soon after a child is born (specially if it is a girl child) they decide they want a new daughter in law with more dowry. This is common.

Why don’t women gladly divorce such men? Basically because Indian women are raised to see Getting Married and Staying Married as their ultimate goal in life.

They may have other reasons too.

A 28 year old woman’s daughter had some medical problems and developmental delays. She felt she was not going to be able to care for her without the father’s support. The father loved the child, but his mother felt the daughter in law was not respectful enough. The man seemed undecided, loved the child, but seemed to fear his mother too. Now if it was easy for the man to divorce her, his family would have ensured that does happen.

In many cases like this, women do not think they benefit from being divorced, and the husbands swing between loyalty to their birth  families and wanting to stay married.

In the past such people could get the son married again, no legal divorce was needed. (Who does it look like is being babied here?) This still happens, though it’s not common in middle class families.

I know of a driver whose parents forced him to marry a woman they really liked, but he left his village with a woman he liked and lives in Ghaziabad now. The legal wife takes care of the parents and has one child. She’s grateful to have a roof over her head, she has no idea that she can’t be driven out of her marital home until she signs the divorce papers.

In another case my maid from Hubli left her husband and came to live, close to her mother, in Pune when she found out that he already had a wife and a child. The husband came after some months, was furious and beat her infront of her family, (who supported him). They didn’t want her responsibility and the stigma of a separated daughter, although she was not dependent on them. No amount of convincing from many of her employers worked, she went. She doesn’t understand that her semi-forced unhappy marriage is not even legal. Are they social equals?

There are thousands of cases like this. The wives have no idea that they have any rights at all.

Why doesn’t this work as easily in middle class families anymore? What changed? The Indian middle class acknowledges that now a wife’s signature is needed for divorce before a second wife can be brought in.

Can this be seen as babying Indian women?

2. In many cases the son has been persuaded to marry the woman in the hope that she would change him into the kind of person his family wants him to be, one example, is Smartu and Sweety’s case. Taking away a woman’s right to have a say in divorce cases would be welcomed by such families. “She fails to change/improve him, divorce her, try another woman.

Question: Who is being babied here?

3. Parents also attempt to break ‘love marriages’. They often succeed, because many believe that in India a woman marries not a man but an entire family. (This applies only to women, men marry a woman (or more) not her  family.)

4. Sometimes married men want a legal divorce to marry another woman. They can’t do that until the first wife is divorced. All this is new to the  Indian society – in the past, even the middle class women did not have the power to stop a married man from marrying a second time.

5. Most Indian women, even today, are brought up to be dependent and devoted wives, quite  along the lines of Mr Responsible Father, and they are blamed and held responsible for not being able to save their marriages. Until these attitudes change, I wonder if divorce laws, where one party wanting divorce is enough for divorce to be granted, might take us back to the times when women had no control over getting married and being ‘sent back’ or being legally divorced?

What kind of laws could help women in such cases?

Laws that ensure that they can not be married and divorced without having a say in both. This is very difficult for Indian families and society to accept. Also laws that ensure they have child custody and means to raise the children (child support), and, sometimes, they should have a chance to try to ‘save their marriages’ if that is what they feel they need to do.

Financial independence is difficult to achieve so long as child care, house work, spouse’s career and elder care etc are seen as women’s jobs. Social stigma, family’s disapproval, risk of losing children’s custody (fathers are natural guardians) make it still tougher.

Can men and women stay unequal in every way, but have exact same (not equal) laws governing them?

Do divorce and marriage affect Indian men and women in the same way? How does one change how divorce impacts women?