Monday, October 02, 2006

Choosing Death

A girl I used to know when I was 12 killed herself earlier this year. I heard about it from other people who had known her as a grown up, as an individual, as a student, a woman, with dreams and ideas of her own. She was chronically depressed, I heard, and kept sinking deeper into this state. Finally, she ended her life. In a strange way, I was affected by this. Just because I had sat next to her at school for some 4 weeks, I felt that I had known her. I was taken aback that someone I had once known, however little, could have been determined to stop living.

One hears miraculous stories of survivors in extremely adverse conditions. One hears of miracle babies. One hears of people starting to believe in God because they, or a loved one, escaped death. And then one hears of people who would rather opt out.

What drives them? A woman in the block next to where I live set herself on fire a few nights ago. It was quickly hushed up and all I have now heard is a rumour that she died in hospital. Then of course there was the horrific visual of a man in Karimnagar, A.P., who jumped off a building after threatening to do so over several hours, hitting the pavement in full view of the press and the police and lots of bystanders. (I'm not even going into how worryingI found media attention to the story, as if having filmed him was a scoop, an "exclusive".)

The page 3 of the main newspaper is very different from the page 3 of the supplements. These page 3 people of the main newspaper are usually rape/murder victims, people who have been robbed, or people who have killed themselves along with their own families. The reasons for such murder-suicides are many---debts, illness, anger, drunkenness, shame. I can never even begin to imagine the despair that drives such an act. I am thankful to the powers that be that I don't (and never should) have to. But all the same, it is sobering to think that the life we celebrate with birthdays, with laughter, with love, with prayers, blessings, presents, family, friends, dreams and hopes, should, in some cases, be a burden that needs relieving at any cost.