By Varkha Chulani
I am writing this from the city where Kate Spade unfortunately ended her life. In a matter of a few days, two celebrities had taken their life into their own hands, and decided that they wanted no more if it. While their families grieved, these acts became discussion points for complete strangers at dinner, and a shockingly common theme that played out was: “How selfish!” Anthony Bourdain and Spade had 11 and 13 year old children, respectively. So the question became: “How could they do this and leave their kids orphaned?”
Insensitivity apart, it occurred to me that not too many of us realise that no one wants to die. I know it sounds absurd when I say this; we all eventually are going to die. But no one really wants to. So imagine on the one hand we don’t want to die and yet (as we know) people end their own lives. It ought to reveal to us the agony that people experience when they choose to end their existence.
To me, it’s clear that their pain is unbearable to them. A relief from anguish seems infinitely better than enduring the torment.
The desolation and despair, the distress and torture gnaw at their being. So much so that the only alleviation feels like it is death. And here many of us sit, passing moral judgement on their ‘selfishness’, ‘cowardice’, ‘lack of strength’ and what have you.
Pause and reflect. Do you believe by any chance that Ms Spade or Chef Bourdain and countless other people made this choice lightly? Absolutely not! This is their last resort. When they believe everything has ‘failed’ and see no light at the end of their tunnel, they believe the best option is to end it all. To them they have been ‘defeated’. There is no hope. Rather than suffer, they believe they don’t have the strength to endure. And it’s there — when a person believes he can’t take it anymore — a radical step ensues.
(Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know feels distressed, or has been contemplating or discussing thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help and know that you are not alone. You will find a list of helplines here on our site as well as on the Suicide Prevention of India Foundation site.)
So let’s empathise with those who unfortunately self destroy. And stop labelling them. Let’s try and see life from their point of view, even if we don’t agree with their view.
ALSO READ: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT SUICIDE PREVENTION