Suicide, a word that people hesitate to talk about, unlike the evening banter on politics or government policies. It is a term that brings forward the underlying complexities of the human mind and the society we are part of. We live in a society where people have been conditioned to see the world in terms of binaries, such as black and white, night and day, normal and abnormal, and the list is endless.
We are living in the 21st century, but taboos and stigmas still have an overwhelming presence in the thought process of many communities and societies. One such taboo is associated with an unconventional form of dying that is suicide. It is seen as an abnormal form of death, unconventional, and ‘abnormal’. In order to understand the stigma, we need to dig deeper into the causes that lead an individual to end his/her own life.
Let us explore some of the leading causes of suicide:
Stigma Associated with Mental Health:
One of the major strands; Studies show 90% of individuals who died of suicide were suffering from mental illness.
Here’s a scenario to have a rough idea on this followed by some real facts.
You wake up one day and you feel feverish; the first thing you would do is call your doctor. He would hand out a prescription to you that you would stick to until you feel better again.
You don’t go to work and call up your colleagues to tell exactly how you are not well and would like to let up a bit.
Why don’t you confine yourself in your room or why don’t you hide under your sheets?
Because it’s simple, isn’t it?
You grew up knowing that it is normal to have a fever and your society didn’t stop you from seeing your doctor when you had it for the first time.
Because “SOCIETY DECIDED TO NORMALIZE PHYSICAL AILMENTS”
Let’s alter the situation now;
Two weeks have passed now and you still don’t feel yourself. You have zero sense of concentration and have also lost your appetite. There is undying negativity all around.
Then You wake up one day and it’s worse now, you don’t feel like getting up. You still somehow manage to get up thinking you have work to do.
You don’t eat anything as you don’t feel like eating too.
You go on about your everyday groove.
You still don’t feel good and decide on not showing up at work and you tell your colleagues that some unfinished work has come up.
Why are you hiding away how you feel this time?
Because This time it isn’t so simple, is it?
Nobody told you while you were growing up that there are illnesses beyond physical diseases. Nobody told you that attention to your mental health is indispensable.
Because “ SOCIETY DECIDED TO TABOO MENTAL ILLNESS”
According to Neuro Central
264–300 million individuals globally deal with depression;
Around 284 million with anxiety-related disorders;
46–60 million people live with the bipolar affective disorder;
20–23 million has schizophrenia;
16 million go through eating disorders.
Various other illnesses are not brought up here and these mentioned figures are just an estimation.
The ground reality is way worse than the reality we have come down to.
According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, “there are 0.75 psychiatrists for every 100,000 individuals” and sadly falls into one of the lowest ratios all over the globe. We can’t even begin to imagine how serious this is.
Let’s take schizophrenia, for instance, to understand the gravity of the situation surrounding mental health all around the globe.
According to WHO, “Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental illness characterized by distortions in thinking, perception, emotions, language, sense of self and behavior.”
Individuals suffering from it face hallucinations, delusions, episodes of unusual behavior, and the like.
Isn’t it enough to seek help and get treatment?
Surprisingly, it is not! Studies show more than 69 percent of people suffering from it are not under any pertinent treatment.
The core foundation of such circumstances is nothing but the stigma surrounding mental health.
Why is mental health stigmatized?
Lack of apprehension: It is just as natural as anything for people to get any random physical sickness but it is not the same with mental illness.
It is still seen as something despicable in a time where we are talking about starting a life on Mars.
Despite the advancement in psychiatry, people are oblivious to the fact that it is completely normal to go through any kind of mental illness.
There are public stigma and stereotypes attached to mental health that further leads to personal stigma and stereotypes.
Individuals who suffer from mental illness are mostly treated somewhat differently. They are very easily labeled as dangerous, violent, incompetent, or crazy.
And when this comes off as a result of opening up to people, certainly, they would try to avoid such a situation followed by isolating themselves.
As a result, they start feeling like the situation is out of their hands or the horse has already left the barn. There is nothing left to say, there is no one who can help and they get hard-wired to a never-ending loop of falling. They are compelled to give up.
“Eventually ending their own lives seems like a last resort”
And this is how people die of suicide.
This all surfaces because of public stigma. This happens because they don’t know what it is, they don’t even bother to know what it is in the first place.
People are in dire need of changing the outlook towards mental health even though some of them are even oblivious to this fact too.
Normalizing the entire concept of mental health is called for.
One harsh reality of India also evinces how urgent it is for us to do away with the misconceptions surrounding mental health.
According to the site NPR, In most places of India, people associate mental health with evil magic; and instead of seeing a psychiatrist or therapist, they go to faith healers and temples to look for a cure.
Lack of education on mental health is something to be taken as consequential.
In today’s world, access to an excellent education has become quite easier yet the system itself is selective and biased. The education system doesn’t give recognition to mental health as a subject of importance.
As a result of which students start lacking self-esteem and they start questioning their worth and existence. Hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, and to top it all the stigma surrounding mental illness force them to attempt suicide.
Early insights on mental health can help a great deal.
The dissemination of true understanding of mental health can make the children come forward without being afraid of judgments and thus be able to take the right actions at the earliest possible.
Media plays a huge role in portraying mental health as something unusual and not belonging to the norm.
More often than not the media depicts mental health problems different from mainstream ailments.
The person suffering is seen as if he is mental, or the daily vocabulary labels them as ‘mad’ or unfit for the conventional society.
Instead of presenting it the way it should be, the media sketches a completely different and concocted picture of these illnesses.
Hence, it forces people into believing the misconceptions.
People need to acknowledge mental health and normalize therapies and every other process that could be of help to people dealing with mental health issues.
We are humans before we are anything else. Yet we tend to forget that. On one hand, we talk about empowering everyone, and on the other hand, we have a never-ending docket describing the types of discrimination that people face on a daily basis.
You must be aware of the LGBTQ community. But, has this ever occurred to you why there is no such community for people who claim they are straight?
According to the study of the site one future
62% of transgenders faced issues with their family members.
56% could not continue with their academics.
The majority of them were dealing with depression and had to go for unconventional recourse to make their livelihoods.
There are countries where LGBTQ is still portrayed as a crime and the death penalty is the upshot if one ever gets caught.
However, In countries where LGBTQ has been accepted, they still have to go through the judgments and ruthless atrocities.
They are still seen as somewhat different than the people who fall into the category of straight. So when society professes that it has accepted the LGBTQ community. Has it?
Everyone is familiar with the term “Dalits, The Untouchables”. It is easy and unchallenging to live where you are not labeled as something and remain ignorant about the hardships of the people existing on the other side of the coin.
“16.6% of the total population of India is formed by the people who are called Dalits. Studies show 2 Dalits are assaulted every 2 hours in rural areas, Number of cases of harassment, murders, torture is huge and cases that are filed get dismissed easily.
In rural areas, Dalits are not even allowed to drink water from the same well as a person from higher caste drinks.
They aren’t allowed to enter the temples and there are several other such atrocities that Dalits bear the brunt of every single day of their existence.
How brutal the situation gets is pictured voraciously in the movie “ Article 15”.
It’s 2020 and yet people are still subjected to the discrimination based on their caste.
These two examples are just like a drop in the ocean. We are surrounded by diverse fragments of discrimination.
Discrimination based on gender, sex, color, religion, race, ethnicity language, and whatnot!
When on one hand some women are making it to the moon, some women are oppressed and pulled down by the weight of abiding patriarchy.
In a world where we keep on chanting “Equality is for Everyone”, there are people who are discriminated against and even sometimes murdered based on the color of the skin they were born with.
Has this ever occurred to you, how many people spend their lives inside the bracket forged by society?
This revelation of these underlying sad truths is just to pinpoint the fact that there are people who can’t bear the burden of living inside these brackets.
And, that bracket sometimes compels them to take extreme steps and they end up taking their own lives.
Hence, they die of suicide.
Bullying: Power fascinates people!
Making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, calling names, passing judgments on someone’s weight, looks, the color of their skin, socioeconomic status, so on, and so forth, these are all forms of bullying.
This imbalance of power or privilege might make some feel superior but it leads to some serious repercussions in most of the cases.
Bullying has been in our cultures for ages and it is only seen to be nurturing more and more with time. The rationale behind this is the internet. The internet for sure is doing wonders in our lives but it is also responsible for giving birth to what I would like to call “Faceless Bullying” and which goes by the name Cyberbullying.
According to the online portal Indiaspend , 1 in 10 adolescents faces cyberbullying.
The same study also shows a report from a survey took place in Delhi NCR that 9.2% of 630 adolescents had faced cyberbullying and half of them never even reported it to anybody.
Also, the upsurge in cases of cyberbullying of women recorded was 36% from 542 in 2017 to 739 in 2018.
If we talk about global records then;
According to the site named Comparitech, 1/3 of youth globally experience bullying in schools, and 1/5 of all bullying takes place through social media.
The studies of broadband search show that 42% of cyberbullying takes place on Instagram 37% on Facebook Snapchat has a participation of 31% On WhatsApp, it is around 12% And on Twitter and Youtube, the number is approximately 10%
Another report from broadband search shows that half of the students who came out as LGBTQ have gone through cyberbullying at some point in their lives
This is just a small insight. The number is huge, the reports are innumerable all around the world.
And, some of the cases don’t even make it to the reports as they are not even reported due to the fear that arises as a part of bullying.
However, the impact of bullying is even more terrifying;
Source: Ditch the Label
Students who face bullying in any form become vulnerable to social and mental health problems.
Low self-esteem, deterioration in physical as well as mental health issues, loss of self-confidence, minimal social contact, etc are some of the major results of bullying.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, some people are triggered by bullying to a very great extent.
According to Megan Meier Foundation, Targets of cyberbullying are at risk than others of both self-harm and suicidal behavior (John et al, 2018)
Approximately 18% of youth report self-harming at least once, impacting 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys. (Monto, Mcrea Deryck, 2018)
According to the site verywellfamily a survey shows that nearly 1 quarter of 10th graders who were bullied have accepted to have attempted suicide.
It also shows that according to Suicide awareness voices for education, among 15-24 years old, suicide is the leading cause of death.And, this is how bullying becomes another cause of suicide.
And, this is exactly why more often than not our newspapers have highlights like “22-YEAR-OLD COMMITED SUICIDE”
People need to understand that what they consider as an activity of fun might become life-threatening to somebody else.
People need to acknowledge the fact that anonymity is not some sort of entitlement and that being on the other side of the screen does not give you the power to do something as monstrous as this.
The approach to slow down:
Considering all the facts mentioned above, it is quite hard for us to look at a positive side. Yet, there is no harm in trying and creating a society where people would be allowed to live the way they want to.
People need to be educated on matters like that, Awareness needs to be spread on a larger scale. The bills that are passed and the laws that are made to put an end to these crimes need to be followed by one and all if we want to see a change in the positive direction.
There are people, influencers, activists that have started raising their voice against such atrocities so that more people are aware of the rising situation that needs to be put to an end.
Changes do not come overnight. But with the right attitude and the drive to do something good in society, there will surely be changes made in the right direction which will have a long-lasting effect in society for the betterment of the people.
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