Look­ing at parental sui­cide through the eyes of chil­dren who are left be­hind

Business Bhutan - - Opinion - AMRITH BDR SUBBA The writer blogs at am­rith­di­ary.word­press.com

It is very sad to know that out of 361 sui­cide cases recorded by the Royal Bhutan Po­lice and health fa­cil­i­ties across the coun­try from 2009-2013, 66 per­cent of the vic­tims con­sti­tuted mar­ried peo­ple. This means that it’s not only youth who are dy­ing by sui­cide in Bhutan. Many par­ents are also killing them­selves ev­ery year leav­ing be­hind their in­no­cent chil­dren at the mercy of the sur­viv­ing par­ent or their rel­a­tives.

For chil­dren, noth­ing is more painful than hav­ing to see their par­ents die by sui­cide. It raises sev­eral ques­tions for them as they drag them­selves through the trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence. “Why did he or she de­cide to com­mit sui­cide? Why didn’t he or she think of us? Why should this hap­pen only to us?” are some of the ques­tions that will haunt chil­dren through­out their life. As a child, try­ing to make sense of his or her par­ent’s sui­cide is an in­tensely per­sonal jour­ney that can of­ten last a life­time. Those chil­dren who are left be­hind are of­ten haunted by the feel­ing of aban­don­ment, sad­ness, guilt and even anger as they try to fig­ure out why their fa­ther or mother, or both of them, de­cided to leave them be­hind. This wave of emo­tional feel­ings spills over even to the sur­viv­ing rel­a­tives and friends who are close with the vic­tim’s fam­ily.

A cou­ple of days ago, my heart froze with pain when I met a 6-year-old girl in my wife’s vil­lage who has been left be­hind to grow up with her grand­par­ents af­ter both of her par­ents com­mit­ted sui­cide. Just within the span of three years, she was to­tally or­phaned. I have been told that her mother, fol­low­ing a heated ar­gu­ment with her fa­ther, con­sumed her­bi­cide and died in 2013 when she was just over 2 years old. Then in 2016, her fa­ther too killed him­self by hang­ing, re­port­edly due to some fi­nan­cial prob­lems. To­day, she is be­ing looked af­ter by her ma­ter­nal grand­par­ents. Al­though she is too young at the mo­ment to re­al­ize what she is go­ing through, she is

def­i­nitely strug­gling to cope with her new life with­out the love and warmth of her par­ents. No mat­ter how much her grand­par­ents treat her spe­cial, her story would have been cer­tainly dif­fer­ent if she had both her par­ents alive to­day. How­ever, she is not the only vic­tim of such a fate. There are many chil­dren in Bhutan who are com­pelled to live with the painful me­mories of such a fam­ily tragedy.

As a par­ent, I can feel the pain of those chil­dren who are fated to grow up with the trauma, guilt, shame and stigma caused by such a seem­ingly stupid de­ci­sion of their par­ent (s). I don’t know what drags peo­ple so close to the edge of the world that they even fail to think about the fu­ture of their chil­dren when they de­cide to end their life. As it is gen­er­ally said, com­mit­ting sui­cide is a self­ish choice. Peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how many peo­ple will be af­fected by their death af­ter they are gone. As spir­i­tual masters al­ways say, this hu­man life is too pre­cious to be de­stroyed like that. We must be able to love our­selves and be grate­ful to our body for all the plea­sures and hap­pi­ness it gives us. If ev­ery­body dearly loves him­self or her­self, he or she will never con­sider com­mit­ting sui­cide even in the face of un­bear­able pain and mis­eries. We should not for­get that af­ter all, we are the best cre­ation of Na­ture with all the fac­ul­ties per­fect enough to make us the most pre­cious and spe­cial in­hab­i­tants of this planet. When we have all the abil­i­ties and op­por­tu­ni­ties to be a good hu­man be­ing and make great con­tri­bu­tions to the well­be­ing of other mem­bers of the so­ci­ety, it would be re­ally un­fair on our part to kill our­selves and waste all the bless­ings given to us by Na­ture. There­fore, it would al­ways be bet­ter to con­sult med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and coun­sel­lors for timely sup­port and care if you ever feel sui­ci­dal or de­pressed. No mat­ter what, please never con­sider killing your­self. When you en­counter prob­lems, it’s not the end of ev­ery­thing. The prob­lems al­ways come with so­lu­tions. You just need to take time to sort them out and you will be fine. Com­mit­ting sui­cide will never solve the prob­lems you face.

Busi­ness Bhutan pro­vides this vi­tal pub­lic space to cit­i­zens from cross sec­tion of the so­ci­ety to en­cour­age free and frank de­bate, di­a­logue and dis­cus­sion. Views and opin­ions ex­pressed here are that of the writer. If you wish to con­trib­ute, please email your opin­ions, views, and com­men­taries to busi­ness­b­hutan@gmail.com

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