The next big taboo for India.

//after rape of course – which has become a topic of discussion everywhere these days. Here is something as crucial to talk about. something crying for attention, and highly ignored – suicide.
For starters:
There are more number of suicides than homicides at in our country. and in the world.
The number is almost double of what is reported.
The number has always been above one lakh in India.
It is an issue largely neglected by the government because of the social stigmas that surround it.
and suddenly, the Delhi metro is a hot spot – one suicide per week at some station or the other. Yes, that is the estimated rate. That is a ridiculously high rate. Why aren’t more people talking about it.
Why the Delhi metro?
The clinical architecture, cold atmosphere and almost surreal surroundings. Maybe it’s the general air of apathy. The Delhi metro station is intimidating as a space. It speaks loudly of the competitive nature of our metro cities and the rapidly growing cultural divide between small towns and cities. These massive social pressures to be somebody and make your place in a new city lead to depression and frustration. Metro stations around the world have been suicide hot spots, and Delhi is no different.
So now what?
First off, let’s agree that we have got to talk about suicide. It’s not a spell or forbidden word that will suddenly cause more people to kill themselves. In fact, quite the opposite. Given enough time and thought, everyone will have an opinion on killing oneself. just the kind of pedestal that rape is receiving in our country these days.
Secondly, media is a medium. We have to learn that taken it with a pinch of salt, it’ll be just fine. Glorifying Jia Khan’s suicide or scandalising the accused rapist’s suicide in jail is not helping anybody. But a little more clinical reporting of the same data, say done by a specialist rather than a journalist will help.
So here are some debates/binaries that I think that everyone must tally with their own intelligence  and discuss with everybody around them. It’s not always easy to recognise a potential victim, which is why you often hear people saying, ‘but she was totally normal, I don’t know why she killed herself’ and so on. I urge you to discuss this with family and friends and encourage discussion about it, just like how condom advertisements and talking about rapes has become fairly fashionable among educated indians.
should it be legal to kill oneself? after all, liberal country and all that. It should be a human right by now, right?
That’s what I thought initially, why is it a crime? But as it turns out, things are a little more complicated than that. To put it simply, your life is not exactly your own to take. We do not live in a society built on the unit of an individual. A family is the smallest unit of society.
This means your act of suicide questions this basic unit of society that we have built and makes our foundation slightly weak. It borders on anarchical principles, that we cannot afford to follow for the smooth functioning of our country. And to top that, there are the millions of euthanasia issues that follow – which we shall not get into right now.
Yes suicide is legal in several countries, but they have been through different phases of development and our culture and society is far more diverse and different to compare to any other country.
should the media be censored? you know, with the domino effect of reporting suicides and all?
well, in my opinion, the media must report with a little more empathy. like I said, a little more clinical reporting of the same data, say done by a specialist rather than a journalist will help.
Is it moral/ethical to kill oneself? do our religions say anything about it?
At the end of the day, as Camus puts it, the only truly philosophical problem is suicide. Good luck deciphering that one out. For the sake of information, among religions, hinduism is one of the very few that has a small window of tolerance for suicide. It allows you to fast to death under certain circumstances. All other religions are dead against suicide, claiming a sentence to hell and all that. In my slightly harsh opinion, it’s your personal set of ethics, just don’t leave behind a mess, of tears or blood.
Is it cowardly? In my opinion, definitely not. There is a thin line between being brave and foolish, and you need guts to kill yourself. It’s not, as popularly believed, for the weak hearted.(people only propagate that idea so that young adults don’t go around killing themselves in a fit of pride and rage) Either way, the fact that you need courage to kill yourself doesn’t make suicide a noble deed at all. It is a self involved act with little concern for repercussions. The mind follows a complex six part processing before committing the act, and cognitive destruction is one of them.
Is there a gene that can determine if you are suicidal?
For those of you hearing this for the first time, it’s a real topic of debate among scientists. We will not know for sure if there is. A few patterns have been discovered, but like most debates about genes, it’s a 50% nature & 50% nurture verdict that always wins. You may have depression prone hormones because of your heredity and all that, but ideally, we have to stop classifying people as suicidal and non-suicidal. A lot of people (inclusive of you and me) have wanted to kill themselves at some point, given the circumstances. It is not a disease or an unnatural mindset that breeds in some people.
Suicide is, more often than not, an act of impulse therefore largely preventable at a society level. Especially among the 70% of those who are under 44 in our country. People really want to be saved more than anything else. They want to end the pain – not their lives. And a little sensitivity from all of our sides, can go a long way. Break the chain of anger. Start the chain of empathy. As cheesy as that may sound, we are becoming a really cold society. Owing to the growing rates of crime, we look at everybody with caution and distrust. Of course we are only looking out for ourselves, but let’s try passing a trusting smile around once in a while.


As part of my three part design interference (Talk, Clarify & Empathize) for addressing this issue, I created the hypothetical existence of a suicide consultancy that acts as something more than a helpline. A company that supports the initiative of survivors anonymous.  I call it alternate endings.

After watching a couple of documentaries/movies and reading a few books/ articles that dealt with suicide, I had the third realization of my project- the need for empathy.

Most people in the suicidal state of mind begin to shut people out emotionally from their mind space. They cut out even the ones they were very close to. What they need is to know is that someone else is going through the same thing; someone else has similar thoughts and intents; they need to hear another person’s pathetic story to make their sorrows feel more bearable.

This is the identity I’m working with after sorting through a few other options and iterations. It conveys a certain binary & duality that aptly communicates the a conflict that every suicidal mind is constantly struggling with.

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 3.26.53 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 3.27.02 PM

Two things I did not know.

  • The means to kill oneself guides the act more than the reason to commit the act.

That is to say that not having any razors, pills and guns in your vicinity; or grilling bridges and balconies, actually reduces the rate of suicide. This points at the underlying obvious – suicide is largely preventable.

  • Talking about suicide doesn’t give people ideas about it.

The one who wants to commit suicide is likely to come up with the idea independently. We are self aware beings who by default recognize suicide as an option. It is important to have an opinion about it, hence one must encourage conversation about suicide instead of hushing the topic or brushing it under carpets.

The basics.


I started out the project with a slightly radical bias. I was of the opinion that one’s life is solely one’s own – therefore one should be allowed to end it as and when one pleases. Turns out, things aren’t quite as simple. We’re born with strings attached & our social structure is one that is based on faith in basic humanity and inter-dependance. As terribly worn out & mundane as that may sound, it’s the only way for our species to survive & flourish (to put it down in blunt biological basics)

Anyhow, there is little most of us know about suicide & there’s a lot we speculate.
There are a lot of unanswered questions. & through this blog I’m going to attempt to throw light on a few.