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2

Suicide is a taboo subject for conversation. Particularly what makes a person want to commit suicide or what to say in the face of their pain.

“A man devoid of hope and conscious of being so has ceased to belong to the future.”
― Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

Suicide is a subject almost everyone has thought of at some point or the other. Almost everyone has wondered what it would be like to end our own life or how it could be done without confronting the great fear - pain, suffocation or other discomforts. Yet suicide remains a taboo subject. The feelings behind suicide. What makes someone commit suicide. We can talk statistics or prevention or helplines, but in the face of actual pain that drives a person to suicide, we have no skills. There is a difference between contemplating suicide and planning to commit suicide. An important one. The first is a fairly common and natural response to unbearable negative emotions. The other is an irreversible action.

I admit I have often considered suicide. I have written about suicide before too. From a perspective of statistics, from a perspective of understanding widespread distress needing political answers, from a perspective of empathy when I read about suicide, from a perspective of failing to support and grieving when someone I know commits suicide and I have also considered suicide as an option to end my own life when I was very sad. Yet, whenever I have tweeted about the subject, I have immediately got responses that amount to stopstopstopstopstopstopstopstopSTOP! It is so immediate that it would be hilarious if the subject were not grave. I have got helpline numbers as replies, I have got advice to not let dark thoughts enter my mind.

Hello! I write and tweet and comment and contemplate issues of human rights abuse. How in the world can one do that without having any dark thoughts? If I were planning to commit suicide, why would I be tweeting instead of finding myself a rope? I understand that it can sometimes be a cry for help by a distraught person, but if the rest of the words are perfectly normal, where is the harm in reading to find out what is being said?

Because here is the thing. Even if a person were tweeting about suicide publicly as a last ditch call for attention and help, the last thing they'd need is to be told to shut up or a sea of platitudes. What they would be needing is an empathetic listener who cares.

What exactly is this fear of talking about suicides?

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I admit I have spent a great deal of time contemplating committing suicide over the years. As in killing myself. I have been in unhappy relationships involving heartbreak, I've been in an abusive marriage with an alcoholic, I've been a broke single mother of a disabled child. Despair and depression are no strangers. And yet I am here, typing this post.

I have actually found thinking about suicide in great detail helpful. Instead of fearing the pain of death (and thus possibly taking a rash step "while I have the courage" maybe after a glass or two of vodka), I've gone and researched methods of suicide. What would cause the least pain? What are the consequences of failure? What is the best method so that it causes least pain and least risk of failing and living with permanent damage? And anyone who knows me knows that when I say research, I mean obsessive information finding till I am convinced I know the subject in and out without actual experience. Enough to make a very well considered decision. On and off, when I'm in utter despair, I've gone and rechecked all the information. And yet here I am, typing all this.

Is this a guarantee I will never commit suicide? No. But it pretty much guarantees that I have given it thorough thought and not found it a better tradeoff for now. It guarantees that if I do it, it will not be a thoughtless impulse, but a decision I take about my life after considering all options I have.

So how has contemplating suicide helped me?

By giving me an option. By giving me an exit from the pain. By giving me the concrete information that if all this gets unbearable, I still have the option to exit. In the process, a miracle happens. I am no longer cornered by my despair. I always have the cheat route out. And because I know that, I am never out of options. I lose the fear of making attempts to change my circumstances that could fail.  Just allowing myself to spend time thinking about ending myself is a catharsis. If no one else, at least I am acknowledging how bad things are. I am listening to myself. It helps me feel heard. It gives me a vocabulary for describing my situation when asking for help. No, I don't mean "I am suicidal, help me or else." I mean "This, this and this is the reason for my despair. I am not able to see functional ways out. I need help." - because hello, I've gone through all the reasons in my contemplation and have them now sorted out in my head.

And sometimes, in a very cynical way, the contemplations have saved me. If I don't care whether I live or die, why not try this one last thing or the other? If I hit a dead end, I can always die.

“Killing myself was a matter of such indifference to me that I felt like waiting for a moment when it would make some difference.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

Here is an example how. When I was younger, my emotions were more volatile. Taking what I felt seriously and giving it serious thought helped me see things more clearly and invariably, I ended up thinking that if there was any hope, I could use it and if there wasn't, well, I could always die. But the well thought out option being there and not at any threat of being taken off the table gave me the confidence to know I could opt for it any time and there was no need to do it right now. I could afford to wait and see. I am truly grateful no one immediately tried to stop me at such times, or I'd have been tempted to use the opportunity before someone blocked it from me.

Now I am older. I have a young disabled child. Whoever knows me knows that I'd chew my arm off before I allowed anything to harm him. Well, losing a mom would definitely harm him. So suicide is totally not an option any more. At least while he is alive. He needs me. Period. Again, if I hadn't thought this through, I could have been at risk of giving up without considering the impact.

In some of my more selfish and melodramatic ways, I've even thought "What will be, will be" If I am not there, someone or the other will care for my son, though I can't imagine who, right now. But then, in such a melodramatic moment, the desire is also to leave a lasting mark on the world when I die. And oops, it is not "orphaned kid in moment of despair". I'd like to be remembered for something better, thank you very much.

Whatever it is. Others may have their own reasoning. Still others may come to a well considered decision that suicide is actually a good choice for them, When my father was dying of Parkinson's, he had the option of looking forward to an indeterminate bed ridden existence with little control over his body, being bored out of his wits and too exhausted to do anything about it but to wait to die. He begged me to kill him almost every week. It is illegal and I have two more dependents, or I would definitely have arranged for him to be freed as per his will if it were legal. Others do it out of poverty. Starvation. When the alternative is to live in debt and watch your family suffer with no hope of ever providing for them in sight, it can be a brutal life to look forward to, and death may simply be a matter of running out of the ability to fight.

“Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank -- but that's not the same thing.”
― Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer and other stories

Whatever it is, however it plays out, a suicide is not about dying or exiting the world, it is about escaping unbearable torment. A person who feels unheard and uncared for, is unlikely to respond to a panicked flood of platitudes that s/he has heard a hundred times that drowns their voice all over again, even in the contemplation of death.

How agonized we are by how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live. ~ P. Sainath

My suggestion is that we all examine what this fear is that stops us from listening on hearing that word. Because the lives of many around us could depend on how we respond to their pain. If someone has made a well considered decision to die, there isn't much we can do about it, but if someone is screaming into a void of despair, perhaps us offering a listening ear will give them the space to be heard, and in the process get a clearer view of their situation.

What do you think?

2

It is the day for cute messages and wearing your patriotism on the sleeve. It is a day that has increasingly lost meaning for me. We got independence from the British Raj. That was 68 years ago. Are we free?

What does independence mean? Was really racist enough to think that we needed the white skins out? I don't think so. Many freedom fighters too enaged with the world beyond India, got educated in the west. Indeed most of those we bother to remember as leaders of our freedom struggle were. They have continued the thought, the methods, the dysfunctional laws to keep the natives in line.

But if you take a moment to think about it, was this why the Indian masses fought for freedom? Poor starving masses have no ideology. They resist oppression. Their ideology is survival. Their ideology is their right to thrive. Many places had every home throwing up a satyagrahi or a rebel. They did not do this because of inspiring ideologies. They did this because they could not thrive under the British. They did not like being second class citizens, they did not like their wealth being stolen, their grains feeding far off wars while they died in famines. They fought against the British because the British WRONGED them. At the top, those with fancy ideologies, who were rarely poor enough to worry about whether they could survive formed grand theories about how they were the rightful custodians of India. But the Indian masses supported them for the hope to an end of their , not fancy ideologies or even democracy.

These people are still struggling. They are still being evicted from their homes and roots in the name of development that happens elsewhere. They are still providing cheap food so that the subjects of the Raj don't revolt, even as they the drought with their sweat and blood. They are still demanding their rights. they aren't revolting because they don't know how. There are no elite with their ideologies to tell them how to fight this time, because the elite are busy squabbling over the loot from the last time. Besides, there is a danger in reminding the masses that they didn't fight for freedom because the colonists were British - many invaders have ruled India without uprisings. There is a danger in reminding that they fought the British because they were harmed and humiliated. Because they still are.

The danger in reminding people of this is because very little has changed for those who gave uprisings their power. Their living conditions have very little change. Most freedom fighter stories - it is the season now, check them out - still describe the freedom fighters living in poverty, forgotten. These stories talk of India's lack of gratitude for their contribution. But these stories also stand witness that the conditions that led those people to revolt for their freedom still exist. In effect, they achieved nothing for their own realities.

The that made a career out of hyperbolic patriotism as idolizing soldiers evicted protesting soldiers on the day before Independence Day celebrations. The 68th "Independence Day" and soldiers can't even ask for their rights without being attacked by the state. What were they asking for? Their basic rights. One rank, one pension. . An old age without needing to beg from those they put their lives on the line to defend. The country is dotted with struggles. I doubt if there is a single district in all of India without some struggle still going on. Whether it is desperate slum dwellers fighting for their homes, or farmers fighting for something as pitiful as allowing them the income for survival so that they continue to subsidize the food for this colony. A government that is asking people to give up their LPG subsidies never thinks of asking people who can afford it at least to pay the actual cost of what it takes to grow food and profit from it. We hide the harm to farmers, sneer at any effort to make their lives easier as "handouts", while filling our bellies with the handouts from farmers.

Aren't celebrations a bit premature?

India is STILL bleeding money, draining most of the country for the prosperity of a few. Is it even freedom if criticizing the government means being declared a supporter of India's enemies and jeered at and being asked to leave the country? "Go to Pakistan!" Why? Because this is the country of your colonists. Not yours for you to stay here, right?

We have a  poverty line that is so absurd, it is more like a miracle line - incredible people who can survive on nothing. And we still have about a fourth of us living UNDER it. MAGIC. Perhaps we can earn TRPs if we turn it into a TV series. Oh wait they usually don't survive. They exist starving till something they can't afford to cure takes them down. There is a government hell bent on emptying vast swathes of India for the profit making industries with little regard for the people or the forests. We are now redefining things so that they don't sound so terrible. We tweak statistics to make them sound less terrible. We call the cutting down of age old forests as reforestation because surely, someone plants a few saplings somewhere.... Forest dwellers are now the homeless. Massive displacements "compensate" the development hit masses for the loss of their livelihood, their homes, their sustainable communities that were their support structures and nurtured the environment, their sources of food... with pigeon hole housing - because hey, if we give them a home, we just shifted them for progress and didn't really harm them. Right?

Celebrating 68 70 years of complacency over colonization this IndependenceDay

The drought saw young daughters studied till the 12th class come to Bombay to work as prostitutes and send money home instead of dreaming weddings their families can't afford. Parents gave daughters to bride traffickers to feed the remaining family even as trafficked brides get shared among brothers, discarded if the husband dies or no longer wants her. Parents marrying daughters off with just one consideration - that the boy's home is in a place where there is water. There are men marrying water wives to fetch water for their real families. While resorts boast of swimming pools and cities suck up water from hundreds of kilometers away while people nearby die of heatstroke chasing the scarce water tankers. We saw those accused in the irrigation scam give themselves a clean chit while others condemned them. Not one voice spoke of the need to make reparations to those development-hit people denied water for 10 years.

Today is the deadline for providing feedback on Net Neutrality. The government and internet providers are deperately looking for ways to make massive profit from an unequal internet by finding ways to call it equal. The previous feedback seems to have gone into some blackhole and there is a new, short deadline for providing new feedback if you are still planning to persist on fighting for your internet. Poetically, your chance to have a say ends on independence day. Oh and the government has formally declared in court that you don't have a right to privacy, even as your information torrents into big data for someone's profit. With the government's blessings.

The British jailed journalists and editors who wrote to oppose them. Our government has sent notices to on how they were reported. Crimes against inconvenient natives go unpunished. We are actually diluting the laws for whistleblowers making it illegal to expose wrongdoings that the government doesn't allow you to. Propaganda continues to convince the people that the rulers are their best interest, just like the old days.

Does it sound like these people are independent yet? Can a country with most of its people living hand to mouth - if at all - even call itself free? Can a country that denies dignity and income to those who feed it, serve it, protect it be called free? Can a government that silences people critical of it be called a government of the people? General Dyer merely ordered the firing at Jalianwala Baug. The soldiers were Indian. As Indian as our agencies inventing crimes against people who are opposing wrongs by our colonists against the natives.

Picture abhi baaki hain dost, the freedom struggle is not yet over!

Is this independence? Are Indian people really rulers of their country? I don't think so. Independence day is just a PR game for me. The elites telling people they have something precious, even when people cannot experience it. The freedom struggle is not over yet. The so called Independence Day merely marks a change in colonizers. The freedom struggle is still on, invisible, modest but determined all over India where people are STILL fighting an unjust state that is trampling all over their right to thrive on their land.

Old post. Still valid, so no need to write a new one.

Unconscious processes are those we are not aware of. Before all the high IQ internetizens assault me, let me say, most of what we do is unconscious. We are automatically reacting to many things which come to action only if there seems to be no automatic response possible, or if something unexpected happens. Like, you are reading this page and scrolling as needed automatically. If I changed the behaviour of the page in how it responded to the mouse, you'd notice, consciously figure out how to achieve what you wanted.

There are also many layers and processes happening simultaneously - sometimes related, sometimes independent. For example, while you read the page and scrolled, you were also maintaining balance, evaluating what you read, planning a response.... none of which changed or even became conscious when you addressed the dissonance with the scrolling.

Many, many things we understand somewhat are unconscious. Stereotypes, superstitions, bias, reactions, perceptions....

Usually, when something is inexplicably illogical on the conscious plane, something contrary to what is in our consciousness exists in our unconscious. This is a vast and diverse subject, which I cannot do justice to in article, so I suggest reading up a variety of writers and learning from observing the world, if you find this intriguing. Good start is "Shadow Aspect - Jung" or Freud. But there are many.

The thing is that these processes being UNconscious, pointing them out is usually met with utter disbelief, rejection and disagreement. That is because they are not conscious, duh. It takes some digging and examining data rather than memory - which is 'written' by the unconscious anyway.

Unconscious perceptions rarely evolve without conscious intervention. For example, a child's instinctive fear of heights keeps getting revised with his awareness of increasing capacity to handle it. Even an adult will balk at a fall greater than he believes he can jump, but that distance keeps getting revised as improved ability is registered. People also fear heights irrationally. They have usually 'clubbed' all heights as dangerous rather than 'graded' their threat. Point being, new information needs to be assimilated in order to revise old perceptions.

I have a diagnosis on Kashmir's problems with the Army.

Kashmir is an integral part of India is the government line. Kashmir feels occupied rather than included is the Kashmiri. There are a million dimensions and psychological processes.

One big thing. The unconscious is fairly primitive. Expect ghastly things, zero logic beyond action-consequence, imagery rather than complex ideas and feelings driving everything once you step into the 'zone'.

Kashmiri Pandits were persecuted out of the valley. It was horrendous. It 'hurt' India deeply. The Army presence increased. The Army are 'protectors'. The Kashmiri Muslims were the 'culprits'. India is largely Hindu. The unconscious perception of the country as well as the Army becomes that the Army is dealing with the Kashmiri Muslim barbarians to protect the country from their criminal acts.

Since then, militancy has become better understood, better controlled. However, we have not stopped thinking of the Kashmiri common man as inherently dangerous. The Army is still "protecting" the country from its own citizens.

In effect, the country has unconsciously judged Kashmir for the ethnic cleansing of the Pandits and the Army holds them imprisoned for the safety of all. To the unconscious, these things like human rights don't exist. Either you are for, or you are against, and if you are against, you will be picking up fights. Be it detentions, rapes, tortures, killings, whatever. Consciously, of course they don't. OF COURSE. They fully believe that they are protecting the Kashmiri citizens as well, but some will keep 'breaking rules' so to say. The unconscious sense of revenge is a powerful thing.

It is equally true for the Kashmiris. To them, the Army is the 'enemy'. They can do no right. No matter what they do, they are evil. Anybody being hurt for any reason by the Army is an intentional Army atrocity intended to attack kashmiris. Etc

This process is locked in a strong, defining perception. It isn't going to go away unless addressed specifically. It is powerful enough to create memories to illustrate, and it is powerful enough to suppress memories that don't fit - on both ends.

Similarly, the separatists, Pakistan, etc have their own narratives. Equally illogical. The only reason I'm not listing them out is that there is no point in the specifics and getting into arguments - the point is in looking beyond assumptions of reality. These 'jumps of logic' will actually be individual to each person and it reflects in what they speak of the most.

The unconscious 'knows' what is right/wrong based entirely on the experiencing. I can tell you a tale of some atrocity done by a fictitious king of a fictitious country on fictitious citizens of unproven innocence and if you even have so much as a strong opinion against that king now, I can give you a book a year later with the hero having the same name as this fictitious king, and you'll call it a lousy book. You may not even remember the story I tell you now, but still! How many times have you been inclined to think of someone favourably or unfavourably simply based on look or name? Your unconscious decides that if they look like that, they abuse their dog, or if they have this name, they are snobbish - likely because you formed that perception elsewhere with someone else who looked like that or had that name. That's how the unconscious operates. Logic has nothing to do with it, and it is devastatingly real. It has a name. Its called projection. Google it up. Its fascinating insight into just how primitive we all are.

A participant in a lab where we explored unconscious processes once said that the scariest thing in the entire world was what she could discover hiding in her own mind.

The only fix is making it conscious. Questioning those perceptions and re-evaluating reality.

All parties should also look into their own projections and come to a more reality oriented understanding of the picture. The answers will always be uncomfortable, because they were suppressed for a reason - discomfort. However, those buried realities skew everything they look at.

And we have an instinctive understanding of this, because there have always been demands of going back into history to investigate and "fact find".

This will help resolve Kashmir, because it will allow people to work with reality. It will help the Army regain its honor. It will help the Kashmiris regain their dignity. It will even help Kashmiri Pandits find acknowledgment - they are currently buried next to all the suppressed issues around their story. It may not solve any political problem, but being able to address the human conflicts will allow breathing space and healing for better answers to emerge.

India has many excellent people who have devoted their lives in the study of the unconscious and its impact on people. It might be worthwhile to invest in entirely apolitical large scale interventions for all stake holders as a humanitarian contribution towards resolution. If Kashmir is suspicious of India, it could even be possible to ask foreign social scientists.

Think of it. We have trauma counselling for a reason. The entire valley AND the soldiers qualify.

Note: All the intense Kashmir debaters on both the three sides of the two sided coin, please excuse. I am not about judgments. I throw in everything that seems significant. If it makes sense, great. If it doesn't, that's okay too.

“Our republic cannot bear the stain of killing its children like this” ~ Indian Supreme Court Judge on possibility of extra-judicial killing of Maoist Azad.
There is hope.
This isn't a matter of supporting Maoists or not, but the profound simple matter of the role of the police in carrying out the stated will of the government. If it turns out that the stated will of the government differed from its real will, that should become clear too.

He had turned himself in. He died under mysterious circumstances, and botched cover up led to a covert autopsy that contradicts the police story of how he was killed.
It is fantastic that people took matters up and brought things to this stage.
The Maoists are India's greatest challenge, and while Internet warriors may find it easy to condemn them, the fact is you can't call a country a democracy if half its people are outlaws one way or the other. And we have many such illegitimate children - Kashmiris, North East, Red Corridor.... And then we have neglected children - suiciding farmers, generations lost to drugs in Punjab, tribals, displaced Kashmiri Pandits.... to name a few.
To be a democracy, we should be including these people in our journey, and its no use grudging the loss of speed that means. If we travel together, slower is more meaningful than traveling fast in a way that Arundhati Roy describes excellently as the secession of the upper and middle classes from the masses.
This should be marked as a turning point in the history of India, when the law spoke and spoke firmly to uphold the rights of Azad, even if he likely was a criminal, because he represented an important part of our population.
If half the country is criminals one way or the other, perhaps its time to change laws. ~ Vidyut Kale