I am a consummate lover of life, romancing it, lusting after it, at times even having a volatile, adulterous dirty little affair with it. I like to play with, chase it, challenge it, lock horns with it, hurl stilettoes at it, shout abuses at it, mock it, rock it, embrace it, waltz around a bit and when things heat up, do the tango with it. So, when a 25 something, in a split second, gives it all up, I grieve. For the loss of life; for the loss of “a” life. 25, too short, too quick.
They splashed the news of her death. Jiah Khan probably never hit that many headlines while she was alive. Suicide, as perverse as it sounds, made her a star. They compared her – to other lives cut short – Divya Bharti (she’ll always haunt Bollywood), Silk Smita, Parveen Babi, Nafisa Joseph, Viveka Babajee, Kuljeet Randhawa, names exhumed from the media morgue to add some meat to skeletal news. Some painted a sketchy portrait of her ‘thwarted ambition’ and a love affair gone sour. Some extracted studies blaming hormones, chemicals and genetics while others attacked the big bad film industry, almost famous careers and overnight success stories and its mindless obsession. Khan’s post mortem reported everything, except one thing: 25 is not an age to get rid of life.
While Khan’s abrupt exit was captured extensively, a couple of days after her suicide, another 25-year-old killed himself, and was dumped in a brief on inside pages of newspapers. An upcoming Hindi film scriptwriter Amir Yusuf Mir, hung himself. Last week, late Michael Jackson’s teenage daughter Paris too tried to commit suicide. Disposable, dispensable – is that what life has reduced to?
Why do people commit suicide? Let me rephrase that. Why are younger people taking this ugly shortcut? I can understand the Punjab and Vidarbha farmer suicides or those who have lost everything to fraud and con (the recent chit scam in West Bengal being a case in point). I can also understand warped medical cases, violent histories, even the agony of rape victims. But what I can’t wrap my head around is an educated, talented individual with a solid support system giving it all up.
To draw some sense, I posted the same on Facebook, to which a poet of a friend replied, “A writer who ended his life wrote: The idea of suicide is a protest against life; by dying. I would escape this longing for death.” “Escapism” it is, feels another. “Because they can’t face reality,” flashes next post. “It’s a soul’s journey,” reads a spiritually skewed post.
Online dictionary lists suicide synonyms as rashness, recklessness, perversity, irresponsibility, madness. And I quite agree with them.
Research validated the point further - Studies by WHO reveal suicide death rates in India are among the highest in the world. A large proportion of adult suicide deaths occur between the ages of 15 years and 29 years, especially in women.
The first national study of deaths in India, published in the British Medical journal The Lancet (2012), says that suicide has become the second-leading cause of death among the young in India. Of the total deaths by suicide in individuals aged 15 years or older, about 40% suicide deaths in men and about 56% in women occurred in individuals aged 15-29 years. Suicide deaths occurred at younger ages in women (average age 25 years) than in men (average age 34 years). Now this is the part where my case gets stronger: The study points at the well researched fact that it was educated persons who were at greater risk of completing a suicide.
Rapid development, the sudden boom, competition, job anxiety,higher expectations and the pressure to achieve, are all leading to the thought and action of suicide. It’s feeding the “inner destructive voice.” The defeatist, who would rather hang, shoot, consume poison or slash their wrists than develop a thick skin, give a damn and live their life.
To cut a long story short (no pun intended), and at the risk of sounding preachy – nothing is important enough to end life over. No sorry love affair, violence, depression, competition, peer pressure, rejection – nothing is worth it, for this is life. You win some, you lose some, but you carry on. Catch a super man story if you need a pump, call a friend, a real one for ego boost, confide in your parents – you’ll be surprised how they’ll accept and protect you.
It may sound corny, but read inspirational stories. Did you know actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui struggled for ten years, in two bit blink and miss roles, in million rejections before Anurag Kashyap made him a star. He “Cannes” do it, and did it. My all time favourite is Will Smith’s “In Pursuit of Happyness.” No matter what life throws at you, pick it up, and throw it back. Catch and release, live and breathe.