Suicide is not a trump card: Death at one's own hands should not be legitimised

Guess everyone has their own selection of demons in the head. Dark places and dark thoughts which are self-destructive in their spawning.

And, for sure, Rohith Vemula seems to have had his share, little goblins that caused havoc in his mind. Spectres of fear that supposedly pushed him over the precipice.

A matter of great concern is the epic dimension given to the suicide by the media and the public. It has been packaged as an act of honour and the message to our youth is scary, — if all else fails and you want to get your way, go ahead and kill yourself.

We cannot give suicide a clean chit and make it a viable option. It is not the trump card in our deal; it is regretful that there has been this legitimisation given to death at one’s own hands.

Suicide is not a trump card: Death at ones own hands should not be legitimised

Rohith Vemula. Image Courtesy: Facebook

Forgotten in the maelstrom of outrage is the fact that suicide is illegal. That the pain and suffering caused to the family, to the boy’s parents and his relatives, his friends will never be mitigated. Suicide is, by its very nature, drenched in malice and there exists in the youth some vague idea that by dying they will get even. It is the ultimate selfish act.

Was the situation so dire, so lengthy in its agony that the young man, clearly intelligent, decided there were no avenues left save to spite his adversaries by letting go of his life?

Look, it is a hard world out there. This world does not owe us anything, not even a living. There are hundreds of thousands of people with huge problems. Massive hassles. Exploited, victims of injustice, derailed, beaten by the caprice of fate, paying the price of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, cheated, conned, made into scapegoats, sick, physically challenged, grief stricken men and women, suffering a wide swathe of prejudice and bigotry, not for a few weeks, but for years and they persevere. They do not kill themselves. The other four students did not choose to die. They continue to fight. Give them some credit. We have almost made them feel they are losers for wanting to live on.

Which one of us is not faced with mountains that seem insurmountable? Yet, which one of us would be proud if a loved one committed suicide. Would we understand it, would we feel a surge of achievement and nod wisely and say, we are with you on it. I doubt that very much.

Not only is any attempt at self immolation illegal, it is also against religious tenets. Nor is it an act of courage. You are not saving someone from a burning building. Nor being a martyr to your flag and country. There is nothing heroic about this. It is a sad and total waste of life and those who give it a ‘wah wah’ feel are treading on very dangerous ground.

The website Indian Exponent even went as far as to interpret the boy's Facebook entries tracing a sinuous and plummeting path from sunshine into the depths of darkness. As if we could now appreciate his need for letting the rope go. What is wrong with us that even suicide is given a pat on the back.

The media does not give a hoot that he died. It is only relevant as far as it feeds a story angle.

The more I read about this young man and his simmering rage within, the more I am dismayed by the way his death has been used as a political weapon. We seem to have given suicide a benediction as if it is fine to let go of life in certain circumstances.

The texture of irresponsibility given to the way this story has panned out and the way the ‘blame’ for his suicide has been dispensed to various quarters smacks of an arrogance and thoughtlessness, as if the sensation in the death was more important than the senselessness of the act.

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Updated Date: Jan 22, 2016 17:21:54 IST

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