LIKE TO DIE FOR.
Acraving for love, attention and instant gratification is driving lonely youngsters to take the extreme step on social media
L AST WEEK, a young girl in the US logged on to Facebook, selected the Facebook Live option and began to live stream her attempt to commit suicide.
Luckily, several Facebook users saw the video and contacted the police, saving the teenager in time. A few days later, in Mumbai, a young woman with a phone in her hand and feet at the edge of a ledge decided to record her own death. She too was saved. A man who spotted her from a nearby building immediately called the cops. Yet, many are also eerily successful like the two young men -- one in Mumbai and another in Sonepat -- who morbidly livestreamed their final moments to the rest of the world last month.
Worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation, suicide was the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year- olds in 2015 and India was the country with the highest estimated number of suicides in 2012. In a country where farmer suicides become a major political issue every year, this recent trend of creating an online audience for deaths is adding a disturbing dimension to an already worrisome phenomenon. At the root of it all is loneliness; the feeling that no one cares about them and the only way to stop all the suffering is to let go of life. " Suicide is not just an act," says Sweta Tiwary, volunteer, mentor and trainer at Connecting, a Pune- based NGO dedicated to suicide prevention among the youth. " Suicide is a progression of thoughts and feelings which pushes people to take the extreme step.
People who feel suicidal long for love and care. While every case is unique, live streaming suicide is often an attempt to get attention, which the victim feel was missing from their life when he/ she was alive." Johnson Thomas, director and co- founder of Aasra, a Mumbai- based NGO that helps prevent suicide, adds, " To understand why a person would want to live stream their suicide, we have to look deep into their psyche.
Today's generation believes in instant gratification. They are not conditioned to face the difficulties of life. They are more interested in gaming and less interested in working towards a goal. If things don't go their way, they think life isn't worth it." The act of live streaming their death also serves as a digital suicide note. As Dr Sandeep Govil, consultant ( mental health and behavioural sciences) at Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi, says, " When somebody wants to leave a reason for their suicide, they leave behind a note. This note has just changed form and transformed into a live form. What you write on paper may not portray the exact image due to lack of emotions. Streaming live suicidal videos is definitely a dramatic representation of a suicide note with clear display of all the emotions." But before you lambast social media as the new harbinger of death, it will be heartwarming to know that the platform has also saved many a lives in distress.
" Last week, on Facebook, a lady asked her two friends and sisterin- law, ' Who would take care of her child's future and financial needs if she is gone.' A relative of hers who read this suspected her intention and immediately flew from the UK to be by her side," recalled Dr Govil. " She was brought to me, and she is fine now. Had she not shared her distress on Facebook, she would have been dead by now." The issues plaguing the mind of a suicidal person can be anything from a strenuous relationship to failing in an examination, but the signs are there for all to see. Dr Sameer Malhotra, senior consultant psy- Creating an online audience for deaths is adding a disturbing dimension to the act of suicide The practice of live streaming deaths also serves as a digital suicide note.chiatrist at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Saket, lists out some of the signs. They include: writing emotional messages; voicing ideas of worthlessness, loneliness, feeling significantly ill-understood, feeling cornered/ dejected, helplessness or hopelessness; questioning the purpose of life; crying for help; voicing lack of care/comfort from family/friends and feeling excessively humiliated. "Any suicidal thought shared should not be taken lightly," says Malhotra. The most important and basic way to save a suicidal person is to make him/her feel wanted. He continues, "Try to comfort the person concerned and make him/her feel wanted and cared for. Try to make the person look at the brighter side of life. Give some time to the person and help him/her to stay connected with family and friends. Also, try and encourage the person concerned to seek appropriate and timely professional psychiatric help. Depression is treatable and suicide is a preventable cause of death." As Sandeep, chairman of Sumaitri, a Delhi-based crisis intervention centre for the depressed and suicidal, says, "Suicidal feelings and depression can happen to anybody. Instead of ignoring people who are suicidal, we must listen to them and show them that they are not alone."
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