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).

“… people will say we encouraged these men to follow us… even though we are innocent”

When young women hear victims being shamed, blamed and silenced after each news of sexual crimes against women, is it surprising that they feared they would be blamed for the Street Sexual Harassment they faced everyday?

In their suicide notes — one runs into six pages, the other is four-page long —  the girls speak of fear and shame, of disrepute, of tongues wagging simply because young men had been following and harassing them.

“Everyday a new man would come and chase us. They would pass lewd remarks and offer us phone numbers.
The people around us would stare as if we had done something wrong. You know how bad our colony is… how people will say we encouraged these men to follow us… even though we are innocent,” Madhu wrote.

What could have lead to their fear of being blamed and shamed?

Take a look at just one example of what they feared,

Related Posts:

Is stalking of girls and women illegal in India?

Would women be in some ways empowered if they saw no shame in what they could risk being called?

What did Sharad Yadav mean by, ‘Who amongst us has not followed girls?’

Reserved seats and coaches are not a special indulgence towards women, they are an indication of a serious social problem.

The fearlessness of the Indian ‘Eve teaser’ (sexual criminals)

Are we trying to threaten Indian women with rapes as punishment for modernity, independence and self reliance?

Did the posters threatening acid attacks on women wearing jeans surprise you?

Dad knifes girl for speaking to lover

“As long as the men do not understand that they CANNOT and WILL NOT get away with such behavior and criminal acts, the rape culture will not go away”

Controlling crimes against women: What works, what doesn’t work.

This is what rapists do when there is no fear of punishment.

How Victim Blaming confuses rapists, police and the society about when exactly does non-consensual-sex becomes a crime.

The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them.

It’s Your Fault

“She was warned several times and was used to unethical practices like friendship with boys.”

How did we make Indian criminals believe that they have 7 khoon maaf if they can claim to be teaching Indian women a lesson in Indian values?

Allahabad girl Aarti Yadav beats harasser, sets bike on fire

Can sexual harassment be compared to Terrorism against a whole community called women?

“Such mannequins will excite men and pose a danger to women.”

“I am safe because I’m very careful in the way I behave and dress in public, on the streets.”

In Gurgaon, jobs, safety and roads after 8 pm, reserved for men?

The night I was not an easy prey.

Which city in India, do you think is the safest city for women? Do women in that city stay at home after dark?

“Sometimes it seems like every single thing I do has the potential to be something ‘provocative’.”

When they don’t even understand crime, how are they ever going to begin controlling it?

Those charged with our safety should have a true understanding of what it is to be a survivor of sexual assault — slut or otherwise.



“I am betraying my parents, country and culture by not having an arranged marriage, people are talking, younger sisters not getting married.”

Sharing an email.

Hi there,
I can’t believe I am writing to you but I guess when you think the only way out it to kill yourself then you must make sure that you have checked all avenues before blaming yourself to be source of all pain (and therefore concluding that eliminating yourself is the only solution).

I am a female, 31 and (for my sins) single. I have been living in UK for 11 years. I studied in UK and now have a good job, circle of friends, my own flat and I am about to start studying for a second masters degree this year. My family lives in India (in one of the two big metro cities). I have not taken a single penny from my family since I have left India, in fact I have helped them when they needed it. We are three sisters and a brother ( I am the eldest).

My parents have made my life miserable for the last 6-7 years about getting married. My parents want me to marry a Brahmin Indian guy selected by them in an arrange marriage fashion (their source for guys is the TOI and HT matrimonial sections). I don’t believe in arrange marriage.

I was in an on and off relationship with a British Asian guy for 4.5 years. We broke up when I was 29 because of his commitment phobia (he is 37 now).  I partly blame them for my only ever relationship not working out. Even while I was with him, they kept asking me to meet the people they were selecting because my ex was one caste lower and therefore not acceptable to them. I wanted to please them (was too scared to let them down because they have taught us that if one upsets ones parents then one leads a horrible life and gets sent to hell by God) , was weak and was not feeling secure in my own relationship either, so I kept meeting other men they were suggesting on the side. I didn’t remotely like single one of them.

Parents have visited me once in UK (my sisters have been here a couple of times) but that makes them qualified (they think) to choose a suitable guy for me.  I, who has resided here for 11 years and made all the adult life decisions alone, am not qualified to choose my own life partner.

I thought if I tell them that I will no longer meet guys they are suggesting, then all this will stop. So I did that a year ago. But they did not listen. Recently they still insisted that I speak with another guy. I spoke with him reluctantly on the phone. As expected he was not my type, so I refused to see him. My mother has not spoken to me since because I did not meet the guy and said no after a phone conversation.

The emotional blackmail is relentless: younger sisters not getting married because of me, dad’s age (he believes he is very old at 65 and can die any moment), I am betraying my parents, country and culture by not having an arrange marriage, I am the cause of everyone’s illness, I am selfish, I don’t care about anyone as I am use to being on my own and living an independent life, how can I be happy if I am not married,  “ladki haath se nikal gayi” when you left India, I trusted you but you betrayed us, you are ungrateful for everything we have done for you, people are talking all kinds of crap about you….the list of what I am apparently doing wrong by not having an arrange marriage is endless.

Dad today also said that I should give up everything in UK and come back to India. I asked him why do you want that and he said “So that we can marry you and show the world that you married a guys of our choice. There is nothing wrong with that, is there?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! It was as if a devil had taken over my dad! This has been the last straw for me.

I am tired of this now. I cannot think of a way out of this. I feel alone as I am ashamed to confide in people in the UK that my parents are forcing me to get married. I think that if I die then all this will die with me and they will not be upset anymore. Help me please. Is there anything I can do to change this.


Related Posts:

“Only thing I can can think of now is to take a spoon of boiling oil and put on my cheeks. I will see then who marries a girl with a burnt face”

What Khaps need is a strictly implemented law against Forced Marriages.

Four kinds of marriages in modern India. Which ones would you ban?

Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage – Karnataka HC

Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

How illegal bans on Valentine’s day and birthday parties are connected with dowry deaths and sex selection.

Are these the eight reasons you would give in support of Arranged Marriages?

Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills.

A marriage arranged by the parents is better because they have experience.

“I need suggestions – these girls are ruining their lives with their stupid ideas about love.”

Why is abuse by parents taken so lightly by Indians?

Indian family values are good for Indian daughters?

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover…?

Jiah Khan’s suicide note.

R’s Mom shared this link, and I agree with the gist of the post, although I wish the tone was more sensitive to the young woman – who is also a victim of Patriarchy, that sees Getting and Staying Married as the only goal in women’s lives.

What are your thoughts on this one?
“…this is a 25-year old who … thinks her life is value-less without the continuing attention of some unemployed star-kid?! How the heck was she brought up? What kind of …. adult mind thinks that someone else’s attention is so important that her own life pales in comparison? … Who gave her these values where “death before losing in love” is a virtue?” 

Read Jiah Khan’s suicide note, Jiah’s letter to Suraj Pancholi

Let me share some bits from Jiah’s letter. This is why, I feel, Getting and Staying Married should not be seen as the biggest goal in a woman’s life.

“You may not have known this but you affected me deeply to a point where I lost myself in loving you.”

IHM: Glorifying such dependence leaves those ‘lost in love’ vulnerable to manipulation, control and abuse; OR it drives them to control those they feel they can’t live without.

“… I’ve never given so much of myself to someone or cared so much. You returned my love with cheating and lies.”

IHM: Shouldn’t lack of reciprocation, lies and cheating be seen as warning signs?

“It didn’t matter how many gifts I gave you or how beautiful I looked for you.”

IHM: Gifts and beauty can make a disinterested or manipulative man turn into a loving partner?

“…When I first met you I was driven, ambitious and disciplined. … I didn’t see any love or commitment from you. I just became increasingly scared that you would hurt me mentally or physically.”

IHM: There was violence, or fear of violence, but Jiah thought this relationship was worth taking her life for.

“Your life was about partying and women. Mine was you and my work.”

IHM: Generally the partner who likes to socialize (seen as frivolous) is seen as the culprit, and the one who likes to spend time ‘gainfully’ and alone with the partner the victim

But couldn’t it indicate incompatibility or disinterest, or both?

“…. I never told you but I received a message about you. About you cheating on me. I chose to ignore it, decided to trust you.”

IHM: Why is foundation-less trust glorified, and even romanticized?

“No other woman will give you as much as I did or love you as much as I did. I can write that in my blood.”

IHM: Based on Bollywood values: Love is giving and suffering silently, and watching the loved one happy.

And writing in blood is not unheard of, it is seen as a proof of ‘true love’.

Things were looking up for me here, but is it worth it when you constantly feel the pain of heartbreak when the person you love wants to abuse you or threatens o hit you or cheats on you telling other girls they are beautiful or throws you out of their house when you have no where to go and you’ve come to them out of love or when they lie to your face or they make you chase after them in their car. Or disrespects their family. You never even met my sister. I bought your sister presents.

IHM: So many reasons to end a relationship. And can reciprocation be ‘earned’ with trust and loving someone ‘loyally’?

Please note, this post does not blame Jiah Khan’s parents, Suraj Pancholi or Jiah Khan for her suicide, it is only an attempt to understand why so many Indian women commit suicide when disappointed in relationships/marriages.

Here are some more women who did not walk out of abusive relationships.

Some have died, some live unhappily, some still hope they will eventually reform the man, some have accepted misery as their destiny.

‘An email from a daughter whose mother endured everything because she did not want to ruin her daughters’ lives’

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India? (Update: Now this daughter refuses to end her marriage, she has cut all ties with her parents.)

Sixty. And nowhere to go.

“When wives become too possesive of her husbands and do not want the affection to be shared with their near and dear…”

‘Mommy’s secret: The monster in my house (an essay by a 4th grader)’

If someone dislocated your jaw…

“Her husband has told her she can leave if she wishes, she does not have a steady income of her own.”

When she says she no longer wishes to stay with him, why isn’t her word enough?

The father threw the baby on the ground and tried to strangle her with his legs: No case registered.

An email: “just for a few days of fights and torture in a month, how can I leave this life?”

When a daughter refuses to go back…

Perhaps, this video explains it better.

And a success story.

An email: “But my parents, fearing the society and their reputation begged him to take me back.”


Anjali Gupta suicide.


I received an email with a link to the news about the suicide of Anjali Gupta, 35 and this message,  ‘Live-in-relationship with a married man leads to suicide… one marriage is saved, one life is lost .’

1. Since one of the partners was married, legally this was not a Live in relationship.

(Another case that was not a Live-in relationship – here)

2. If the allegations made by her family are proved correct, then Group Captain Amit Gupta, 51 was cheating Anjali Gupta. (Another case of cheating here.)

He could also be held responsible for her suicide.

The parents of Anjali Gupta have alleged that Amit had promised Anjali marriage since long and on his refusal, she committed suicide,” [Link]

3. Finally, I am not sure if the man’s marriage has been ‘saved’. Maybe a divorce has been avoided. If he wanted to save his marriage, he didn’t have to wait for her to die. (Or is marriage and marriage-saving here being seen as the two women’s interest and responsibility?)

What really bothered me.

That Anjali Gupta could have committed suicide because Amit Gupta was not marrying her. That she felt an abusive relationship with an irresponsible and dishonest man was worth dying for.

If her parents allegations are correct then though she is more likely to be condemned as a home breaker, wasn’t she actually in an emotionally abusive relationship?


I also noticed that most commentators on this news article seemed convinced that Anjali Gupta ‘was court-martialed over trivial and cooked up things‘ to teach her a lesson for her allegations of sexual harassment against senior officers. Some commentators advised women to stay away from Defence Services. Some others quoted Adarsh scheme as a reason for their mistrust in the armed forces.

Amardeep’s blog discussed IAF versus Anjali Gupta in Dec 2005 here.

This also reminded me of sexist views expressed by IAF Vice Chief Air Marshall.

Dying statements of vengeful women settling scores by attempting suicide.

Sometime in 1985 traveling by the DTC, I saw a woman moaning in terrible pain on the seat next to mine. She had swallowed rat poison and was being taken to a hospital half an hour away for Emergency Treatment. In a crowded bus. The person accompanying her did not seem concerned or sympathetic.

When I discussed this, one of the commonest reactions was, Oh these women know very well rat poison/pouring kerosene on themselves is not going to kill them, they just want to threaten their in laws.” It wasn’t considered odd that any woman should feel (if they did) that the only way to ‘get back’ at their in-laws was by hurting themselves (and risking death).

On the other hand one does hear about self immolation and suicide as desperate forms of protest.

Women hurting themselves to ‘settle scores’ with their in laws were (are?) generally seen as unaccommodating, head strong and vengeful troublemakers. The court seemed to blame this burns victim too,

“It appears that the marriage between the accused Om Prakash and the victim Janak Kumari proved to be a failure and all efforts at restoring and re-establishing the matrimonial home had failed leading to utter frustration in the mind of Janak Kumari. She probably felt convinced in her mind that she had no other escape except to finish herself which course would also enable her avenging her grievance and settling scores with the accused persons whom she thought were responsible for spoiling her life and leading her into immense misery.” [Link]

[Manushi discussed this case and asked if it was normal for women to commit suicide.]

Her husband and in laws were acquitted in the case above. I wonder if they felt guilt or sadness, or did they blame her for creating unnecessary trouble. What kind of adult did her then 7 year old daughter grow up to be?

Women in Afghanistan burn themselves too.

Reliable statistics on self-immolation nationwide are difficult to gauge. In Herat province, where the practice has been most reported and publicized, there were 93 cases last year and 54 so far this year. More than 70 percent of these women die.”It’s all over the country. … The trend is upward…” [Link]

Why would someone choose to die by burning? Why don’t we hear of women self immolating in Europe and the US? Maybe because they have the option of walking out of an unbearable situation?

In 1993 a young domestic helper living in a servants’ quarters in our building died of burns. The husband said he was watching TV outside the kitchen door and heard nothing. Everybody heard the screams but nobody could say what happened clearly.  Shock seems to do this to people. The girl’s parents suspected the husband since he was the only one around and the house was shut from inside, but they were too distraught to take any action. The husband remarried very soon afterward.

In another case which kept me awake many nights, the woman ran out of her house screaming for help. The neighbors couldn’t understand what was wrong, because her husband had changed her clothes when she was unconscious (due to burns) and at first the neighbours saw only her unburnt face. The burnt clothes were found in a plastic bag thrown outside a window. The woman first said her husband asked her to make tea and poured kerosene on her and set her on fire. Then she changed her statement and said she was responsible for her own death. She died a week later.

In both the cases the wives had attempted to leave the husbands and then went back to try and make their marriages work.

Read about one more such victim who tried very hard to be saved.

This news reminded me of the above victims. I wonder if she was seen as a woman being vengeful because whatever other changes she made in her statements, there is no contradiction.  She continued to blame the husband and his family. (The husband and his family were acquitted).

In the first dying declaration made to the doctor who prepared the medico legal case, the victim claimed she was compelled to immolate herself because of the mental stress caused by her in-laws and husband’s demands for more dowry.

The second dying declaration was made before police where Neha alleged she was taunted about getting less dowry and Sunil threatened to kill her by setting her on fire, and in anger she poured kerosene and set herself on fire.

Finally, in the third declaration recorded just before Neha’s death, she told the subdivisional magistrate that Sunil forced her to pour kerosene over herself and alight herself. She blamed all the three accused of compelling her to immolate herself. [Read More]

And I know of more than a few women (mainly domestic helpers from all parts of India) who have considered self immolation out of frustration. And nearly each one of them has, at some time, been threatened with burning (and drowning in one case).


One of them spoke bitterly of the time her husband poured kerosene on her.  She did not think he was going to strike the match, but she was soaked in kerosene and she tried to snatch it from him to put an end to the daily violence and threats. She was glad her husband managed to throw the match box out of her reach. She was glad she was alive for her children.  She felt her misery was no different from most women she knew.
But I wonder what her dying statement would have been if she had managed to grab that match box.