Mirror Magazine

25th November 2001

The Sunday Times on the Web
















Suicide - why its not the answer

Warning signs

* A loss of interest in personal appearance.
* An increase in the use of drugs or alcohol.
* A loss of interest in hobbies, work, school.
* Direct talk about suicide or indirect hints.
* Actions like giving away possesions, change in eating and sleeping habits, going around to friends to tie up loose ends, making a will.
* Communication problems with parents.
* Suicide of relative or close friend.
* Absence of one or both natural parents though death, divorce or separation.
* Conflicts with stepparents.
* Recent severe illness of a family member that has obliged the teenager to take on adult responsibilities.

( Source: Checking out - Suicide by Patricia Cannors )

Some things happen that hurt us badly. They are so personal or secret that although we want to share them with someone and deal with the problem, we don't find the courage to do so. This often happens to teenagers and undoubtedly this is the most vulnerable moment, when they may decide to put an end to their shame, guilt and weaknesses by way of SUICIDE. But suicide is NOT the way out!

For some, life reaches a stage where they begin to believe that death is the only way out. According to them suicide holds a phenomenal power to eliminate the pain, guilt and shame one's going through.

If there's anyone out there, feeling this way, remember you are not alone. There are plenty of teenagers in Sri Lanka, who need something to grasp that will bring them back to safety.

What do the statistics say about suicide?

As we all know, our country too has a very high rate of suicide. Recently there have been reported incidents where young drug addicts committed suicide because the price of heroin had risen, and they could not have their regular fix.

Most people who attempt suicide are between the age group of 16-25. This is similar to the age group that is at a high risk of abusing drugs. Therefore, an interlink between the abuse of drugs and suicide is evident.

But suicide is not only common among teenagers but also among adults. Here too the reasons could vary. But according to reports, 60 percent of those who attempt suicide, are severely depressed.

Is it really the way out?

If every one of us decides that suicide could be the only answer to our problems, well, we are certainly making a big mistake. It is certainly not the way out. In fact, it means running away from one's problems rather than facing the challenges ahead. It also means, throwing away all the gifts the future could hold for you.

Teenage suicide has a lot to do with exaggerated thoughts and ideas that aren't true. In the book 'Runaways: Coping at home and on the street', Patricia Connors states, 'thinking that someone doesn't want help is probably the biggest myth about suicide. Most of the attempts occur between 3 p.m. and midnight, because the potential suicides are hoping someone will find them and stop them.

Did you know that there are lots of reasons as to why a person attempts suicide, apart from really trying to kill him/herself? It can be: a cry for help; a desire for response in others; a need to end pain; a sign of desperation; a state of confusion or addiction to self-indulgence. Humans have an immense need to be really listened to, to be taken seriously and to be understood.

Here's a youngster, who had a close encounter with death andwho now feels suicide is a huge blunder.

Chrishan was only 21, when he decided that he could not take it any more and one night he consumed rat poison and went to bed. Fortunately his roommate sensed that something was not right with his friend and found him unconscious. He was rushed to hospital and treated. Today, Chrishan is quite alright but he wears spectacles as his eyesight, which was once very good, is affected badly. He says, "Now I know it's a crazy idea. But at that time I was desperate."

Chrishan was having an affair with a girl but she cheated on him. He says he loved her a lot and couldn't imagine a life without her. As he was boarded, he didn't know where to turn for help. "I was feeling really down then, that's why I did what I did. I am glad I am alive now and there's purpose in my life."

Now Chrishan is 29 and he is studying to be a Chartered Accountant, while working for a recognised organisation.

He also hopes to get engaged to his long time girl friend, very soon. And he says his fiancée is loving and caring.

There's hope

If ever you feel that suicide is the only way out, hang in there, for things do change and we do know 'time heals'. No matter what you are going through right now, whatever the reasons may be, there will come a time, you'll be glad that you avoided making the wrong decision.

There is hope for every person who is finding it hard to survive the challenges and pressures of this world. You have to be true to yourself. Don't try to run away from your problems. What you have to learn is that living life to the fullest is by fight and not flight. We seem to forget that solutions to our unfathomable problems are within our reach, most often within us. All of us have enormous personal strength to face the challenges before us. It is, important to explore and utilize those abilities.

Acknowledging our problems, seeking help from a friend, and consulting experts to help care for ourselves and cultivating hope, is the secret. Be encouraged, for you can take control of your response to challenges.

Not all at once and not without relapses but in time you can view crisis as an opportunity for learning and growth.

Reach out!

We can help people who think suicide is the only option available.

It may be a family member, a friend, a classmate, a colleague or a total stranger, it doesn't really matter, because what matters is being there for someone, when the going gets tough and letting him/her know you care. As humans we must be sensitive toward another's need and help each other during bad times. Eventually this will make the burdens of our lives lighter.

SLANA (The Sri Lanka Anti Narcotics Association) is actively involved in eradicating chemical dependence and is working towards a drug free society. For further information contact SLANA, 121, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8. Tel: 688311, e-mail: slana@sri.lanka.net or visit their web site at www.slana.lk

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