Matt Haig once aptly said: “It is very hard to explain to people who have never known serious depression or anxiety, the sheer continuous intensity of it. There is no off switch.” This statement best summarises the sorry state of affairs in Kashmir today. The continuous rise in suicide cases in Kashmir is a most worrying phenomenon. Although suicide is an age-old practice in every society, but all over the globe there is an increase in suicide rates and Kashmir is no exception. The recent shocking suicide cases must be an eye opener for our people, who must ask where as a society we are heading towards.
Aharbal is known for its magnificent and breathtaking waterfall and nearby mountainous scenic beauty. It was heart wrenching to hear that a youth committed suicide by jumping into the Aharbal waterfall. This tragic news has been haunting me. Similar cases are reported each day from every corner of the valley. In such a sorry state of affairs, I started asking questions to myself, like what must be their state of mind at that time? Does it need courage to do so? The almighty has said that life is the most precious entity, but still these young buds are ready to prefer death over life. Irony!
Suicides of youths become newspaper headlines and subjects of social media debate. As Kashmir was/is already going through political turmoil, the Covid-19 lockdown has only added fuel to the fire here. The pandemic has worsened mental health all over the world and we poor Kashmiris have become soft targets of such diseases. The fact of the matter is that due to socio-economic and political conditions here, there is complete hopelessness among the youngsters. The growing corruption, favouritism, provincialism, and interference of the political bosses is adding to our problems. Under these circumstances it is no surprise to find cases of mental illness among frustrated people, especially youngsters. The son of a government teacher in the southern part of the valley committed suicide due to financial difficulties caused by the withholding of salary to his father. Similarly, bloodshed of our youngsters is also a big reason for mental illness. Losses in business due to natural disasters are also responsible for the hopelessness and rising number of suicides in Kashmir.
For the past few years Kashmir is facing the worst political turmoil. People here are living in a sad world where there is too much toxicity around. Though the world is beautiful and colourful, here are only dark shades of sufferings, struggle, pain, agony and miseries. The lack of good friends, disturbance at home or office, breakup in a serious relationship, and failure in exams are common threads on social media. The people (though not all but few) are always making fun of depressed people who actually need our help. They need someone to understand them and their problems. We need to stop bullying depressed people.
People are now giving it a name — trend. Calling suicide a trend is disgusting and most disturbing. Does it mean we as a society have failed to perform our duties and responsibilities? Perhaps parents and teachers have a great role to play in pulling their loved ones out of depression and stress. It is also the responsibility of the state to reduce the burden on unprivileged people. At the end of the day we must remember that suicide is forbidden in every religion. Taking one’s own life is considered a violation of the code of ahimsa in Hinduism. Likewise, Islam says, ‘The person who commits suicide will be doomed and must continually repeat in Hell the action by which he killed himself’. Sikhism, too, has high respect for life, which is seen as a gift from God. Thus, it is the duty of every clergyman to guide youngsters towards a better tomorrow and inculcate a better value system in them. The sooner, the better.
As Maya Angelou writes, ‘I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.’ So, let’s live life in the hope of a better tomorrow.