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THE PRESSURE OF PERFECTION

— Jasmeen Dugal

The growing number of suicides is as heartbreaking as it is staggering… with all of its attendant pain, grief and lingering questions. The suicide of a successful person, a role model for millions, is especially agonising for those left behind; just when it seems, at least from the outside, that life had taken these people places, suicide bolts down every door. Take the recent case of master chef Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade. It seems implausible that someone so full of energy and vitality, could end their life. The tragic news sent shockwaves as everyone knew of them as successful, independent people in control of their life. But, it's a two-headed sword. If you are successful and leading an enviable existence, it's near impossible to admit something is amiss…

 

The simple and troubling question, of course, is Why? These professions will always have its glamour and anonymity. For those who can't handle it, suicide is an unwanted side effect of some of the very things that make the career so appealing.The life of a supermodel or actor, celebrity chef or fashion designer — or anyone living a fast-paced urban lifestyle — is not only fiercely competitive but lonely. We have often observed that living alone in the realisation that nobody knows the person behind the glamorous persona [or wants to, other than party conversation and selfies, which wind up on RIP posts across social media should a tragedy occur!] can lead to a breakdown. Yes, there's a lonely side of glamour which few are acquainted with. It's like a pressure cooker, and for some people, they're pushed so far that they lose their grip.  An actor, who does not wish to be named, quit the industry after years of battling depression. ''It was so painful'' she confided in me. ''Almost every one of us in this industry is fragile, stressed, drinking too much, eating too little, some are on pills — but no one talks about it because we have to keep up the facade that everything is fabulous! Eventually, my boyfriend encouraged me to quit films, see a psychologist and get on anti-anxiety medication. Today I am married to him and pursuing my second love — photography.'' The careening economic climate adds to the pressure—it's important to recognise the high-pressure environment that celebrities exist in. When you're successful, you're surrounded by people who have a financial interest in your career, who want you to be working all the time and who may not necessarily look kindly on the idea of taking time off. Take your own decision — there is nothing more important than your well-being!!

 

The point of this editorial — how can we help someone who is losing grip on reality? Suicide attempts are half-hearted cries for attention, help and love. Friends or family must raise the issue sensitively and ask about what led to it, which gives the person at risk opportunity to speak about their distress, and demonstrates to them that there are people who care. They could feel relieved if the issue is raised in a non-judgemental manner; talking through it helps resolve the issue that led to such a drastic action. Just talking about how they got to this point can release a lot of the pressure that is building up and help them find a way to cope. So give these people opportunity to unburden their troubles and ventilate feelings. You don't need to say much and there are no magic words. Just give them relief from being alone with their pain. Unfortunately though in every other suicide attempt, someone succeeds. Could there have been signs that loved ones missed? If caught in time, friends, family, mental-health services and counselling helplines could dissuade a lot of people from taking their life. Sometimes we feel helpless because we do not know how to react. We wish we knew…

 

Perhaps universities should have a mandatory class that encourages open, honest and sensitive conversation about what drives someone to want to take their life, identify signs of depression and suicidal tendency, and explain how we can help someone exhibiting these signs. As responsible adults, it is our moral duty to educate people. If each one of us begin to look out for our friends, family and and colleagues… the world would be a better place and perhaps a lot of lives would be saved?
 

SUICIDE
 
10-JUNE-2018
 
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