I could kill myself! How easily and casually we use these words. Sometimes in humour and sometimes over embarrassing situations. But ever wonder what goes on in the minds of those who actually mean it.

Everyday we hear about suicides. Everyday there is someone who thought about suicide. Usually the reaction is what a waste of life. Why did he/she take the easy way out? I wish he/she could have been stronger or that they were cowards.

Ever wondered how can killing oneself be an easy way out? Survival is our basic instinct. From the time we were micro organisms to the time we evolved as high functioning primates it is all about survival. Even the foetus in the womb tries its best to survive. An infant immersed in water instinctually kicks its limbs for survival. If then our need for survival is so strong, how is it possible to overrule it?

People who end their life do not do so because they want to die but because they are unable to find the reasons to live. The will to live is lost; the instinct to come to surface has weakened.

What exactly is this will to live? Is it a purely biological instinct to survive that we carry from our evolutionary days? Or does it have a root in our perception of self worth. Life is one of the greatest assets we have. Why then does it loose its worth?

Probably because we have never been taught to value life. The newspapers these days are full of stories about how we disregard the life of others. The accident victim, the soldier on the border, the protesting student, the child in a war torn country; they are all evidences of our general disregard for life. Logically we could say that we value our own life more than others. As long as I am ok, the world can go to hell attitude.

But life is not about a beating heart, a functioning brain and breathing lungs. It is about me as a person with my expectations, my feelings and my hopes. This is the life we tend to disregard.

I have seen the families of suicide victims lament about how the person did not think about those that he/she left behind. His/ her act is seen as an act of selfishness. Or the person who expresses the wish to kill himself/ herself is often asked to think of others. How will it affect the parents/spouse/children, the shame it will bring to them or the guilt they will have to face.

Yes the family of the victim suffers, there is no denying that. But am I to continue to live only because my family should not suffer? It could be one of the reasons, but is it the only reason that I continue to live?

Living for others has been always seen as a noble thought. A life dedicated to others is a life worth living. Does that mean I can not live for myself? Why does it have to be an either or situation? Can I live for others while I am living for myself?

Since childhood we hear about how others live for us. How my father works so hard so that I can go to a good school, how my mother sacrificed her career because I could be looked after. How the husband and wife stay together because of the children. So it is my duty when I grow up to live for them and to fulfill their dreams. Yes a very noble aim of life. I want to be successful to make my parents happy. I want to stay in my marriage to make my children happy. So I suffer in a meaningless job and a loveless marriage disregarding my growing feeling of hopelessness.

How often do we hear about the suicide of a person and exclaim “He/she was the last person I thought would do this. He/ she was successful at work, was financially stable and had a family. Why then did he take such an extreme step?” Why indeed? Because we never looked beyond the window view to see whether this he/she was happy? We never bothered to find out what made that person’s life worthwhile.

Why do people think of killing themselves after a broken love affair or a lost job opportunity or after a loss in business? Why do people kill themselves when they get an illness? Because we measure our life’s worth based on our value in the lives of others. If my lover leaves me that means I am not valuable enough so what is the point of living? If I can’t fulfill the needs of my family what right do I have to live? If I can’t live upto the expectations of my significant others my life has zero value. My family is suffering because of me so it is better that I die.

Is that what makes my life worth living? Is it really so selfish to live because I want to live and not because I have duties and roles to play?

We have been taught to minimize our problems and our concerns till they become big enough to overwhelm us. Don’t complain about not having shoes because there are people with no legs. Or finish your food there are children who don’t get food to eat. So will my not wearing shoes and forcing myself to eat help those others? Should I value what I have because others don’t have it or because I have what I need?

The families of people suffering from depression often say “what is there to be depressed about? There are so many others who are suffering more than us.” Does that mean my sufferings are baseless? Would I not treat a burn which I got while cooking because there are people with 75% burns? Would I not treat fever because others have cancer?

I wish we could learn to respect our life. I wish we could learn to value our problems and sufferings. I wish we could learn to live for ourselves too.

When I value myself I know to seek for help. When I live for myself I know that I can carry on when others leave me. When I respect my problems I can look for more solutions.

When I see a person living his life I get inspired to live too. Not because he has more problems than I do but because he appreciates things more than I do. I want to inspire others to live simply by living for whatever it is worth. I always remember a beautiful melody when I talk about the worth of life “jeevan se bhari teri aankhen majboor karen jeene ke liye”. Someone who lives his life fully that he inspires others to live too.

My life is worth living because I also live for myself….

Dr. Gauri Nadkarni Choudhary
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