‘Should I kill myself or have a cup of coffee?
That’s a rhetorical question thrown up by the famous writer Albert Camus, almost as if he was wondering out aloud on an existential angst that plagues the subconscious of many a minds.
A mind that is in a flux, dealing with a gamut of issues while people near him/her would not even be aware or suspect of treading that thin line. He himself probably isn’t too except that it would be the most normal thing to do.
What goes on in a suicide bidder’s (?) mind at that crucial juncture?
We all have chores to do everyday. Chores that require some thought, action and interacting with other people, other thoughts, and actions. We deal with these daily as do others with us similarly. There’s a lot of good or bad action and reaction going on with us everyday requiring positive and negative responses from us in same proportion. If the negatives outdo the positives it leads to an unhealthy imbalance in our system just like not drinking enough water leads to raised salt levels in the body which may lead to blood pressure and that in turn to some other ailment.
Issues that are not resolved timely and allowed to fester will create an unhealthy mental environment to which a person may respond either aggressively externally or internally. Arriving at a solution is a product of having applied some thought to the problem. Although in cases where the emotional quotient is high as like a loved one dying suddenly may trigger a sense of void accompanied with a directionless life. This may lead to taking impulsive decision to end one’s life.
There’s death. And then there is the other- just ceasing to live.
Many suicide survivors are sane, rational people who reveal that they were in constant dialogue with themselves, clearly aware of the step they were about to take.
It’s only in human beings that the question of ‘to live or not to live’ takes form. Although human beings are a thinking species I rather rue the fact that we have lost the simplicity of accepting life as it comes.
I find the question posed above quite interesting in that it addresses in the same breath a dark, highly defied, unwanted and avoided thing as death, in a very casual and routine manner. As mundane or routine as plainly ‘having a cup of coffee’!!!
But then it has been a point of discussion, introspection, and debates since ages. Voluntary euthanasia has been mooted along these lines and some countries like the U.S., Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg have legalised it. That most other countries have refrained from applying it in their countries speaks of the dilemma and ethics involved in such a decision.
A similar strain of thought exists since in the Hindu religion called the ‘Prayopavesam’ meaning ‘resolving to die through fasting.’ This practice of undertaking to end one’s life through fasting is conditional to a person who has ‘no desire, ambition, or responsibilities left in life’. This is not a mere whim of a person to decide upon and has to be declared publicly well in advance. This is subject to other conditions like one not being able to enjoy life’s joys and not being able to undertake owns bodily purification or death appears imminent. It is an act that has to be under community supervision.
The Jain religion too has such a practice called the ‘Sallekhana’ that runs on a similar line of fasting unto death. The purpose is more religious and practical ie to purge old karmas and prevent creation of new ones as well as when one feels he/she has completely served their responsibilities in life.
So while viewing death as the twin sister of life, there are a few pointers we can bear in mind while dealing with some negative thoughts hovering in our own lives.
We can do this-
- Keep an empathetic outlook on things. We have our problems, others do too.
- Be in sync with the goings on of your dear ones. Engage in discussions routinely.
- Have meals in company of those you care for.
- Bring a healthy dose of laughter in your daily life as matter of routine.
Like Mahatma Gandhi once said-‘If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide.’
Wow! He did say that!
A thing that can make you smile or laugh dissipates any negative feelings that may be bunching up inside.
- If you are happy, those around you will be too.
- Confide your problem to a reliable and mature person. Just talk.
- Keep some ‘no electronic gadgets’ time daily to have some real and casual conversation at home.
- Reach out.
- No problem is too big or small. Say to self-This too shall pass.
After all we’ve got one life that we know of who knows if there’s more for us than the present one. Got to do the best we can to live it now itself.
As Albert Camus rightly says-
‘But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.’