I kept getting messages for a vigil for a 46 year old man in the community who had passed away. I don’t know who the man is, or why I was getting so many messages. (I will call him Mr.X- for privacy purposes)
The cause of death is not mentioned at any point. But Mr X was definately a very popular man considering the amount of messages I was receiving.
It soon became clear why the cause of death was not mentioned. Suicide.
In the UK in 2018 their have been 6507 suicidal deaths- and 3/4 of this is men (mental health.org.uk) usually between ,25-40.
This suicide made me think of another suicide 2 years ago by a 15 year old boy in a local school. Another death that took us by suprise. Apparently it was to do with bullying. This boy was beautiful, I was in shock at how beautiful he was, he was tall, slim, really nice hair- I couldn’t understand how such a good looking boy would Evan get bullied let alone want to take his life.
Mr X took responsibility of his elderly parents, had a divorced sister whom he loved dearly and a nephew he was besotted over. Apparently a smile and a hello to everyone he knew. His smile was his signature look. So what caused him to take his life?
The first thing that comes into most people’s mind is- what about the people left behind. How are his parents going to cope? His nephew who he dotted over? His sister who he supported during her bad times. His friends, work colleagues? What about these people? How will they cope? How will they accept this?
It is said that suicide is a very selfish thing, because you could be leaving behind people who may end up blaming themselves, who may get mentally challenged themselves.
Or do we say it is a selfish act by the person as a means to counsel the ones left behind? To pass the blame on to someone so that the ones left behind do not feel guilt?
Is it really the person who took there life selfish? Or the people that are left behind? Thats the ultimate question in my mind, as we would rather a obviously unhappy person be with us, then having to go through the pain of them leaving us.??
There is a stigma when it comes to “mental health” in the Asian/ Indian community still to this day. It is looked down upon, misunderstood, and generally seen as a weakness of faith. Personally speaking Evan in the lowest point of my own life, I have been told to “pray more”. I’m in no way challenging this, for me prayer is my strength, it allows me to be stronger, and focused. But I appreciate it does not work in quite the same way for all.
With mental illness- the individual stigmatised can face alot of negative consequences, some of which include shame within family, isolation, seen as weak, relationship prospects can be damaged, and therefore the individual is told to ignore the feelings, bottle up and put away. I think this is more damaging for men- as men are told to “man up!” And usually for the above reasons mental health problems are kept within the four walls of the house. This in itself can cause more problems rather than dissapearing.
Mental health needs to be talked about more openly in minority communities if a change wants to be made. It’s time to stop hiding away and thinking of mental health as a problem. The problem is our own interpretation of mental health.
Depression leads to suicide, But how is depression perceived in the Indian community? It’s acknowledged for sure, but treatment is a different thing entirely . Getting treated means acknowledging you have a problem in the first place, and generally because of the stigma- people shy away from admitting there’s a problem in the first place.
Another issue is that depression cannot be seen, it is felt and usually this is why people don’t understand it. If a physical pain like a broken leg is seen- we don’t advise a person to get over it and start walking. So why is it that with depression- we tell people to get over it? Just because we can’t see it- does not mean it is not felt, if anything the wound may get bigger.
How can a person who commits suicide be considered as selfish? How can someone be so low – that commiting suicide is the easiest option to get away from the pain of it all. Someone who has no value to there own life, that everyday is a struggle- yet they decide to live a day longer through all the hurt and pain. That to me is selfless.
This person no longer wants to exist. No longer wants to have thoughts or feelings, or demons In the head. This person thinks that if they dissapear others around them would be better off. They feel they are a burden on everyone around them. That’s selfless.
Let’s not get this wrong, I’m not encouraging suicide, I’m merely saying that we need to change our attitude. We need to see the signs, we need to listen, and we need to help.
Love and regards