Our mass social consciousness was awaken once again, on Monday, when a 20-year-old girl Rushaan Farrukh – student of Beacon House National University – committed suicide by jumping off the fourth floor of a building.
The tragic incident has, once again, raised serious questions about our society’s indifferent attitude towards mental health issues and how we disregard the warning signs, brushing them under the rug as a taboo subject. This isn’t the first case when a beautiful soul ended his/her life in despair. Not long ago, social media was bombarded with stories of a painful demise when model Anam Tanoli allegedly took her life. These ill-fated departures have opened a stream of opinions on how suicides can be prevented and what we, as a society, can do to help.
A few celebrities including actress Mahira Khan took to Twitter and expressed their thoughts. The actress suggested how we need therapists in schools.
When will we start taking mental health seriously? When will we stop calling people mad or ridicule them for how they feel?
We need counselors in schools. Not just for students. We need to educate parents and teachers!! pic.twitter.com/JnEQZj59dd
— Mahira Khan (@TheMahiraKhan) November 27, 2018
In an informative session on TV show Zara Hat Kay aired on Dawn News on Tuesday night, Clinical Psychologist Atiya Naqvi spoke about the prevailing causes of suicide in our society. As a parent she said she has lived through the same agonizing experience in her personal life and thinks that society is the guilty party in Rushaan’s scenario.
How good is good enough?
“My 25-year-old happy and high-functioning son committed suicide six months ago, which left me wondering what drove him to such an extreme?” she asked rhetorically, adding that despite being close to her son, she came to know later that the reason was he felt “he wasn’t good enough”.
Atiya stated that the cause of rising suicide rates in teenagers particularly is the rat race of wanting to be the best. However, the prevention lies in starting conversations at home. “Why don’t we make room for imperfection in our society? We need to teach patience and gratitude through practice but we impose it like star qualities. Schools promote competitive spirits? I don’t understand with whom they want children to compete?” she asked.
The art of communication
We all know how important communication is between parents and children and largely blame lack of communication as a cause for depression. Atiya, however, views it in a different way. She thinks that a parent is the last person approached by children in such cases. “A child would always protect and shelter the parents. He/she would never want to hurt or disturb them. What parents need to do is to teach them to be comfortable in voicing their concerns to a third trusted party. They should know when it’s time to reach out to someone or even write it all out,” Atiya said.
Within the last two days, we have seen a torrent of well-intentioned yet patronizing advice to suicidal people on various social media platforms. Atiya thinks that one of the many reasons of people not sharing their grief is because “we listen to respond, we don’t want to feel or understand”. She also added that social media doesn’t pay heed to the personal space or integrity of the bereaved.
It is also not advisable to walk on egg shells when communicating with a person suffering from any mental health disorder. Atiya shared that one needs to be sensitive rather than assertive. “Show concern with love, rather than fear. Ask how they are feeling with genuine care and they will open up.” Atiya’s husband, Azfar Naqvi advised Rushaan’s parents to not be ashamed of their daughter as she was in pain. Celebrate the life they led and don’t judge them on their last action.