Why people kill themselves

From successful celebrities to ordinary folks, from university students to school kids, suicides rates are on the rise. Pick up a newspaper or watch any news channel incidents of suicide can be found. And it seems to affect all sections of the population. Psychologists have many explanations for this. But most of these veer around the idea that depression is the root cause of suicide.

However, there is another important question that needs to be answered. Why is a depression on the rise in Indian society While statistical data is being touted about the growth rate increase, poverty reduction, and economic prosperity, the alarming rise in incidents of suicides proves that these may not be true? This certainly signifies that all is not well.

There is a need to also understand that depression is not a cause but an outcome. The issue that this crops up is what has been going wrong Though in these days of big data and information overload, there may be thousands of reasons that can be found, yet the one simple answer will be that there is too much obsession with oneself. This excessive self-obsession leads to some kind of anxiety and insecurity, resulting in continuous stress. Burnout is the resultant state as one cannot cope with the excessive demands of the environment in which one is placed.

Interestingly these demands are of one’s own making. Burnout leads people to take the extreme step of ending one’s life. As students of abnormal psychology, we had been told by our professor that people commit suicide when they are not able to face themselves. If someone cannot face others, he or she has the option of running away from the place. But if one is not able to face himself, his self-image is totally shattered and he loses the purpose of life.

As someone has very succinctly explained, you can live without food or water or for that matter even air for at least some time. But when you lose hope, you cannot live even for a moment. However, why at all does this stage come in someone’s life that forces him to take the desperate steps

Reasons galore can be cited, but we need to take a cue from one of the most celebrated psychoanalysts, Carl Jung. Jung has written that in his more than 50 years of career as a psychoanalyst, he did not come across a single patient who had faith. Yes, it is the lack of faith in God that makes people lose all hope in life.

It is in this light that the entire problem has to be understood. It is not just a question of mental resilience. It is a matter of spiritual resilience. People have very high demands from their own selves which is a result of false self-esteem that results in a bloated ego. This in turn results in over-ambition, which is an outcome of rising aspirations that exposure to spurious information has created.

Over-ambitious targets due to soaring aspirations lead to a dissatisfied and frustrated mindset. Desires continue to soar without caring about whether it is deserved or not. Thus people desire without deserving. These desires increase the craving for hankering after so many things. When even some of the things out of the so many things desired are not achieved, the bloated ego gets a severe beating and it bursts. This burst leads to suicide.

The writer is a professor of management and public speaker. He can be reached at ppathak.ism@gmail.com

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