Early morning. 7 AM to be precise. My phone rings loudly. I, instead of soaking the morning sunshine, wake up irritated. But few minutes on the phone and that intense irritation paved way to puzzled and a frightened state of mind. The caller was not known to me. He was a teenager calling from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. He sounded helpless and extremely anxious. He told me about his intention of attempting suicide if his conditions do not improve in coming few days. The kid also talked about distressed family environment which is partly because of domestic violence committed on his mother by her in-laws and mainly because of the exam stress and poor academic scores registered by the guy.
Distress calls from friends and acquaintances are not a new phenomenon for me but yeah, it was definitely shocking considering it was coming from a stranger who actually thought and believed that I could help him in such matters. The story goes like this. A year or two back, I had posted a press release on “Growing trend in Child and Student Suicides in India” with the purpose of promoting a particular website. I did it for a client while I was still working as a freelance writer. The article was simple, I posted and forgot it. The post also had my email id and phone number. That was that.
Few days later, I got an email from a kid. I will paste that message here:-
I know that we should not suicide but we are getting lots of pressure from our parents. Take an example of me, recently we had class 12th board paper and the result has also been declared. Usually i used to get marks between 40-50 in mathematics but today my luck is not with me i was failed in this subject. I have scored 17 out of 100. It was an unbelievable for me. I cried a lot and then i talk with my father and he didn’t scold me but my mother is not knowing about my result and i am very afraid that she will scold me. During that time i thought its better for me to suicide than showing my face to my mother. My father told me that he will console my mother but i know her very much. She will not let me come to my home. She will kill me if she came to know me that i am compartment. I failed in mathematics. I don’t know what to do. I just want to leave this world. I want to suicide. My mother has never understood me and i know that she will never forgive me and I don’t want that to happen. So I thought that its better for me to suicide. I am so sorry to my parents that I can’t contact them because I know that if they came to know that I am going to suicide. Sorry sir, but I can’t control myself. Good Byeeee sir.”
I was stunned. I immediately wrote a reply and tried to explain and convince him with the best of my abilities. There was no phone number given so I couldn’t reach out to him through any other way. He did not reply. I mailed 2-3 times after that. There was no reply. This happened almost a year back but this mail still haunts me. I still think about that guy and wonder what happened to him. This mail was followed by few other mails but those were mostly about data pertaining to children suicide in India or for some research reports or from NGOs.
And now this call. I am unable to get over his shivering voice screaming helplessness. I kick myself for not doing much because his parting note never felt assured or consoled. He was on the verge of crying. Though, he mentioned about calling me again but he hasn’t. I tried calling back on that landline number but the person picking phone says, it’s from a STD booth. From STD booth at 7’o clock in the morning??
Why have things come to such a pass? Something must be terribly wrong with our society when young kids decide to end their lives? Thinking of it, how many of these victims would actually be able to spell suicide correctly? According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), students’ suicides have witnessed exponential increase in last few years. The data for the year 2010 places the figure at 7379. It also means, on an average 20 students left this world every day. Who should we blame? Parents or our social system? How many parents actually try to read the distress signals that their children keep sending? The signals could be anxiety disorders, avoiding social gatherings, lack of confidence etc etc. Is it ok to expect our children to be the smartest kids in the neighborhood? Not to forget, we would also like them to be most intelligent, possessing highest IQs, excellent in extra-curricular activities along with studies of course! We keep changing the rules and establishing higher benchmarks and all of a sudden something snaps. Love, care remains there but understanding goes for a toss.
I know, blogging about children suicide in India is not going to make much difference. But not writing about it is also not going to make any difference either. Even I felt the pangs only when I was at the other end of a seemingly small incident. A writer once said that more than one soul dies in a suicide. Children are fragile and break easily. When will we learn this simple, plain truth? I wonder, what sort of social order are we creating in one of the fastest growing economies of the world?