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

How these people who attempted suicide rebuilt their lives
Features Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - 05:30

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

- Friedrich Nietzsche

Since, perhaps, the existence of thought, people from all walks of life – including philosophers, writers, and scientists – have pondered the meaning of existence, life and death.

In a culture increasingly obsessed with “happiness” and the ambitions of achieving unnatural goals, pain and problems are not things we know how to deal with some times. Different people develop different means to cope with their pain, some, contemplate suicide.

An MBA graduate settled in Dubai, *Archana R Nair tried to kill herself thrice in 10 years. Having lost her parents at a young age, she was brought up by her uncle in Neeloor village of Kottayam district. She was 26, working at a private firm in Bengaluru and in love with an engineer in the same company.

“One day I realized I was pregnant. We were happy and simply decided to get married, it was just a decision of making it earlier than what we had in mind. Our families readily agreed. But he had a cardiac arrest just a week before our marriage, and died. That was the first time I attempted to kill myself,” she says.

She deliberately rammed her two-wheeler into a lorry expecting to die. Instead, she had a miscarriage and spent 45 days in a hospital. “At some point, while my injuries and wounds healed, I felt hopeful of life. Maybe my baby was my biggest problem which forced me to think about suicide. I decided to begin a new life.”

Some years later, she met a man whom she liked. Although he was some years younger than her, he seemed to like her and knew that she had tried to kill herself. “But after our marriage in 2009, I realized that he just wanted my money and he was gay,” she said, adding that she ended up losing all her savings and assets. 

“He took everything from me; I didn’t know what to do,” she said. Again, she tried to kill herself and cut her veins. However, the owner of the house where she was living in Chennai, who saw her in a pool of blood, took her to the hospital.

“I was so depressed that I did not die. I tried once more after our divorce by consuming sleeping pills, that too did not work,” she said.

After the third attempt her friends forced her to consult a psychologist whom she saw for around 10 months.

“Now I am happy, I have lots of friends near me, my cousins are looking for a good partner for me,” she said.

On both occasions when she had tried to kill herself, Archana thought she did not know why and for whom to live for. “I felt there was no meaning to life, nothing to achieve, no dream and (there was) nobody to worry about me. I felt orphaned then and kept away from my friends. I had very few friends, but now I have started making friends,” she says.

In extreme distress and pressure of repaying debts his father owed, Rajesh VR of Kannur district attempted to kill himself. But looking back, he shudders thinking about the enormity of his actions. He says he will never try it again.

Six years ago, Rajesh lost his father in an accident.

Then, a fresh post-graduate in history, Rajesh and his family were unaware that his father had accumulated huge debts. “The debt amount was unbearable for a 23-year-old and I did know what to do.”

Although Rajesh tried his best to repay the debts, the amounts had increased as most of the loans were taken from private firms and money lenders.

“I was not able to manage. For a moment I forgot about my mother and sister, attempted to hang myself. It did not work out and I was saved,” he says.

Although he was still living, there was little support from friends. “People saw me as a person who tried to commit suicide. Everyone looked at me scornfully, but (somehow) I was able to manage,” he said.

He is now aghast at his past actions. “I can’t believe that I did that, we still have debts but I can’t think about killing myself,” he says.

*Mercy Thankachhan too had a similar story. Life with her husband of 25 years had been hell for her. He had been beating her in almost all the years they were married. One day in 2006 after a particularly violent assault, she felt she could take it no more.

“I was beaten so badly that I was bleeding everywhere and had wounds all over my body. I felt that I had reached the end of my tether and went into the kitchen, poured kerosene over myself and set myself ablaze,” she says.

She survived, but says that survival brought pain, much worse than she could have imagined. Not once in the three months she spent in the hospital did her husband nor her in-laws visited her, but her daughter and son were always by her hospital bed.

“I can’t explain my experience, the pain I suffered. I underwent plastic surgeries and continuous treatment for three years. My brothers sold my share of the ancestral property which my late father had gifted me for my treatment.”

For Mercy, the burn marks on her body are a reminder of the failed attempt at suicide and a warning against it. “If you try committing suicide you should die. Surviving after the attempt is like hell. It was hard to take the blame.”

Now, the 47-year-old has obtained a divorce, she and her children live separately in a rented house in Kannur district. Her daughter runs a small tailoring unit and she helps out.

Social psychologist and research scholar *Devika Radhakrishnan says that when the thought of suicide comes to a person, they sometimes get abnormal courage to go ahead with the act.

“Every suicide attempts will have a momentary precipitating factor, for example, a woman who has been subjected to domestic violence for many years will decide to commit suicide suddenly in a moment,” she says.

Devika describes that a person who attempts to die more than once can withdraw from the tendency, only if there is a huge positive influence in their lives.

“Frequent suicide attempts by a normal person can be stopped only through the influence of a positive factor in his/her life. For example, a woman who plans to die may withdraw if she comes to know she is pregnant. That positive factor can also be, a medical assistance or friend circles etc…” she added.

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