SUICIDE AWARENESS MONTH: MENTAL HEALTH, A STIGMA AND ITS AWARENESS

By- Aaditya Sinha

I am sure by reading the title itself you think that I am writing because of a “specific suicide case”. If that is the scenario I think you are reading the wrong blog because here I am not going to talk about any specific case because of two main reasons.

The first one is that in any specific case if the verdict is not from the court we are no one to judge what has happened in the crime scene and the other one is probably more important that why should we wait for someone to actually die to talk about suicide and Mental Health.

I mean I don’t understand this that when a woman is raped, from the very next day everyone starts talking about “Woman Safety” and “Women Empowerment” but after some time we move on, and then we wait for another unfortunate incident and then start talking about it again for some days. 

Why should we wait for such a heinous offense to occur in order to educate ourselves? Why can’t we have a routine to have a topic of discussion on women empowerment or Women’s safety? The same goes with mental health, why can’t we have a conversation on mental health regularly or at regular intervals.

Television media can educate their viewers about mental health by speaking for even 15 minutes daily and not only on one specific day which is known as “World Suicide prevention day” on 10th September.

However I am not against this specific day, but we have to talk about mental health in a regular period of time and maybe on 10th September we may look at the change which had changed by talking about these issues on a regular day. In short 10th September could be a result day which will tell our progress report.

Suicide: Is it an adverse case of depression?

It should be noted that people who die by committing suicide can have two main problems. The first one would be instantaneous or say after getting affected by external factors like not clearing examination or love issues or any other external factors. The other problem is that if the patient is suffering from depression or any other mental illness problem which occurs genetically or by other internal problems. 

However it should be noted that even we feel about the “External factor”, the suicidal thought is never specific, I mean, of course, there is typically one such incident that triggers the mind of the person who is suffering from depression or any other mental health issues.

The mind is not that linear and simple as we think, we want only objective answers from everyone so we ask a question like this. Are you happy or sad? Are you dating this guy or girl? But I think the feeling is not that simple or binary as we think.

There are many times when even we don’t know if we are happy or not. However, it is very depressing to understand why one actually tries to harm themselves. There is a concept of suicidal ideation which means suicidal thoughts, it has been stated that along with mental health problems like Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Control Disorder, etc, the suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts increase.

Mental Health: A stigma

I assume and hope that you are reading my blogs, then I think you could have noticed one thing that I am a film-buff and most of the things which I think or speak come from my interpretation from different films.

I remember I was watching a 2016 Hindi movie named Dear Zindagi directed by Gauri Shindey, so there was a dialogue in that film where a psychiatrist (Jug Played by Shah Rukh Khan) is giving a speech somewhere in a conference or something like that and he says “When we have a physical problem we flaunt it comfortably like, oh I am suffering from jaundice, but we don’t talk about problems occurring in the brain, as if the brain is not a part of the body”.

That scene struck me when I watched that film in 2017 and I understood that it is completely ok not to be ok. It’s ok to flaunt your feelings because at the end of the day we are humans and we should not try to become a “Saint”, we have to feel all the emotions like, anger, jealousy, greed, etc.

However one should learn to take care of those feelings and not to surrender against them. There are very limited quotes and movies to actually end the stigma around mental health. I understand that there is a stigma around mental health because I cannot say very easily that, “I don’t know why but everything is looking very gloomy to me”, because if I will say this then people will try to find out to the “actual problem” or say physical problem.

They will not bother to think about mental health. However I am not promoting medicines for mental health, because I am not a doctor and I don’t know anything regarding medicinal ways of curing mental health in detail, but here, I am trying to make a point that we should talk about mental health.

Even if someone doesn’t want to consult a regular psychiatrist or take medicines, at least talk to your elders, discuss the problem and in case if you are the eldest talk to younger people also, discuss with them because we live in a technology era and we can find anything on the internet.

According to me, the real problem is in our minds because since childhood we have used “Mad”, “Crazy”, “Dumb”, “Idiot” words very lightly. Now let me explain in detail what I am trying to say, for example, in a class of 40 students 36 students have done the homework and 4 have not, so these people are the minority in the class, now. If the teacher scolds them and say that you guys are “Dumb” or “idiot”, and let’s assume these students have heard this word the first time or even if they have heard they don’t know the meaning of this word, they will try to find out the meaning of this word, and since they are kids they will actually never understand the real meaning of this word and they will assume that anyone who is different from a group is “idiot” or “Crazy” or “Mad”.

Now, are you getting my viewpoint, that these words whose actual meanings are so deep are reduced to the meaning of “being different from a group”, just ask yourself, don’t you think we all have done this. Anyone who we think is different from what we imagine or see, is considered to be crazy or mad.

These words look harmless at those moments but as time progresses, these words become an obstacle to those who are suffering from these mental health issues.

Legality of Suicide

In our country suicide was an offense under section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. There was a punishment of one-year imprisonment or fine or both. However, this law was repealed in the year of 2014 and in 2017 the offense was decriminalized under Mental Healthcare Act 2017.

In the case of Maruti Shripati Dubal v. the State of Maharashtra, the Bombay high court said that Article 21 of the Indian constitution which talks about “Right to life” includes the “Right to die” and said that section 309 of IPC is unconstitutional.

In another case of P Rathinam v. Union of India, the divisional bench of the supreme court held the decision of the Bombay high court and said that article 21 of the Indian constitution gives the right to die or end their own life and hence section 309 is unconstitutional.

However, in the case of Gian Kaur v. the State of Punjab, the five bench judges (Constitutional bench) of the supreme court overruled the P Rathinam v. Union of India and said the article 21 doesn’t give “right to die”, it rather talks about dignity to live a life.

The court also said that this argument holds no ground to hold section 309 of IPC as unconstitutional. However, it should be noted that in the extreme case where the person is suffering from his life and is terminally ill and cannot be recovered then the law can be a bit flexible.

After these major three cases, the final result is that “Section 309 of IPC is decriminalized by under “Mental Healthcare Act 2017”

Conclusion

As I said from the very beginning, we should never talk about mental illness after a specific suicide because it’s an issue that has to be dealt with utmost sincerity and it should never start after a specific case.

In order to make a more friendly and democratic setup for everyone, we should normalize the situation regarding mental health. The roots are very deep-rooted of its stigma, so we have to talk about this in a very sensible manner.

Maybe not today but tomorrow, we would be able to make an environment where everyone would be more kind towards the “Central organ of the nervous system”.

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