I know that this strip is going to be filled up by perturbing matters, so starting off the way I intend to (despite trying to harness my pen to touch on this some other day!) might strike an unbefitting note but then that is not, the remotest intention, so I hope this submission is taken at face value.
Thus, after drawing in breath—perhaps, to muster the courage—I want someone, anyone to let me know what does the expression, “died by suicide” mean?! How does one snuff out one’s life “by” suicide?! Note the word “by”. Would we say, “he died by dengue?!”, “died by AIDS?!”, “died by cancer?!”. In the stated three illustrations, do we not use the word, “of”?! S/he died of dengue, of AIDS, of cancer?! Now, returning to the heart-breaking act of willfully, perhaps after spending painfully long hours of planning, how and when, to stub out one’s life, can the expression “died by suicide” come into play?! “By”?! Suicide is not a bite by a pernicious snake that we can, with little care, state, “by snake bite”. Though even here the appropriate word would be “of” snake bite, “of poisoning”. This is beginning to sound like a grammar class; this despite, I doubt if I, with even fiddle-footed zigzagging attention, thumped through Wren and Martin, the ultimate Bible in Grammar, that Rahul, my Wordsmith brother, would swear by! So much so, that he would be buying en masse this book, to gift to anybody and everybody…Cross my heart, this not distantly an amplification of the truth, no gilding the lily, but Wren and Martin was distributed with a league of its own flourish by Rahul. No occasion needed. And then, as of now, I wonder how yawningly boring was/would it be to the recipient of such a gift presented by a spiritedly whole-hearted bestower. Anyways, had my hyper-correctionist brother still been in this world, he I can say, would have rallied, till his voice went hoarse, where no amount of saline gargling would have helped, against this wrong usage. Incorrect deployment of not only, “died by suicide” as opposed to “committed suicide”! Not giving a pass to a boundless number of other expressions as well. Speaking of brothers, when last year, my other brother was visiting from California, I mentioned how very ridiculous it was to hear on TV, ten times over, how, one died “by” suicide, ditto for the print media, I was informed that in America, this had become a regular expression. That good Ol’ U.S. of A. had coined it, and were swell-headed that the world had, in the blink of an eye, hammer and tongs, adopted it! Enough of ambling—so to address the painful, to say the very least, matter of suicide. For the past couple of years, so very many students aspiring to be engineers, doctors or police officers or whatever top-notch posts that exist, where, once one clears the entrance exams, and whatever else it takes to graze the skies, believe that if they are unable to succeed, the only option for them is to do away with themselves. To commit suicide. And thus, the growing number of slashing one’s wrist, hanging oneself by the neck, overdosing on sleeping pills (which supposedly are not available across the counter!) making a drinkable concoction of rat-poison…need not go on! It seems that a chain affect is at work, an out-of-hand spreading like wildfire plague. And then what do we do with this unbridled pop-psychology?! On television you’ll find counsellors, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, therapists, mental well-being mediators (whatever that is supposed to allude to!), life-coaches who throw up cut and dried, brain-free reasons for suicidal young people such as parental pressure, peer pressure…Excuse me, but this genre of insistent goading, of pestering pressurization has been there since ever. Dinosaur years ago, when I was in college, these pressures were as ubiquitous as today. And so many of us piled ourselves, as it is very much so now, with this single-minded tireless drive of becoming someone worthy. This bound and determined approach wore us out…yet was committing suicide the answer if one failed to clasp the stars or find some specks of sparkle to rub against the palm of one’s hands?! Of course, things back then were not as sanitized as I may, unwittingly, be projecting but…but…but…as this pen pauses, I recall a hand-made poster posted on the wall of a friend who intended to become a doctor. It roared in, very uncalligraphic writing “Do or Die!” (Doctors as we know, are not known for a legible, easily decipherable writing, so Aditya, naturally was cut out to be a doctor!) I am quite sure that with all the hours, days, weeks, months he clocked in to making it to medical school the war-cry was an inspirational nudge, not the voice of doom, had he not had his name prefixed with “Dr.” Yes, even then, youngsters suffered from depression, brought on often not by having shoulders slumped by stratospheric expectations (though the condition wasn’t, unfortunately, as highlighted as it has been for a long while now). Depression is a kind of inflammation of the brain. Call to mind: the brain being on fire. And yes, if one is lucky, enough to have a psychiatrist/counsellor to lend you his ears, to steer you out of the mind’s maze, then the world would visibly be a more agreeable place. Cannot move on without halting to make mention that as far as depression goes, “age is no bar” and lamentably, even in this day and age, there is a rooted shame, besmirchment attached to mental health matters. No pop-psyching but it’s not far-fetched to believe that the spiraling suicide rate amongst our youth could be because of our tech-propelled traits where every move is Instagrammed—from the breakfast platter to the latest I-Phone uploaded with pictures of one’s life’s raison d’être. Sometimes donning SRK’s “Pathan” look, crying from the mountain top that Bollywood beckons, at other hours dressed like a business tycoon giving a true ring to the money bags landscape by posing in front of a 3-D picture of “Antilia”, Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storeyed home, notifying the world that Ambani is in for serious competition.
And when those dreams, so publicly aired, go kaput then there’s this intense need, until hell freezes over, to make oneself invisible and that’s when toying with suicide comes into play?!