We recently heard that famous actor Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide. I had heard of suicide a lot but this time, it hit me hard. “The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside us while we live”, Sarah Vallance, Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain.
We heard that he was depressed. His parents were devastated, his relatives inconsolable. All of them were shocked that he had taken such an extreme step. They were hysterically questioning how he could have suffered such serious problems that he wished to end his life and why did he never talk to them about his problems? Although I empathized completely with them, I couldn’t help wondering if these questions that they raised were a result of the human propensity for denial when we’re at fault.
I hope I will not be misunderstood. I do not deny at all that losing a child is one of the most devastating things that can happen to a parent. However, there is a reason that a person would abhor life and want to die—probably an extremely strong reason.
Moreover, it’s now high time we realize that immaturity, or selfishness and cowardice on part of the person who attempts suicide are not the real reasons; these are just excuses, which take the blame off us and place it on that person who is no longer there to defend himself. We hardly consider that there has to be something gravely wrong with our ways, which lead people to take their own lives — something seriously wrong with how we treat people who do not fit society’s stereotypical mould of a ‘normal’ person. Why else would a young person want to kill him/herself? Just because they are cowards? That they are too afraid to face the challenges of life? No, these can’t be the real reasons. They are not cowards: it takes an immense amount of courage to take one’s own life.
Our society has a fixed definition of a ‘normal young person’: averagely intelligent, well-dressed, somewhat good-looking and good at academics. Anybody not satisfying this definition will most probably be an outcast. Therefore, when someone is not ‘normal’, we think they are weak of character; we dominate them, belittle them, and their well-wishers, family members, friends, teachers — try to mould them into what society might consider acceptable. We do not realize that in the process, we could do more harm to that person’s self-esteem.
Belonging to humankind’s most advanced generation, we ought to have understood by now that the way a person is fundamentally wired is not for us to tamper with. However, on the contrary, situations are getting worse; our criteria for qualifying a person as acceptable are becoming increasingly narrower. Today, for the young, academic performance seems to be the major criterion for social acceptance. Not good at studies? Well then you haven’t got much of a future, have you? This is our attitude: blaming that person for weaknesses she has no control over. After all, it is not their fault that they are not good at something we want them to be good at, then why should they be punished for it?
These are people whose strengths might be highly uncommon and hence not immediately apparent; but exploration is what life ought to be about. It should be about discovering oneself; a process that should span ones entire lifetime, and not be limited to a fraction of it.
It’s time we give everyone space for self-expression, which they rightfully deserve; it’s time we accept that for every suicide that takes place, the persons family, her friends and the society are also at fault, not just the victim. People with differences are not anomalies, they are valuable, and they add to our world’s diversity; we must give them space and time to explore and to live.
Richa Singh is a student pursuing Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia.
edited by: Maryam Ahmed
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Jamia Review or its members.