Wednesday, 28 May 2014

"Face" up to Depression

A few weeks ago, many of us in the UAE came across a story that aroused all sorts of emotions.  It was the case of sixteen year old Abhimanyu Sadasivan's suicide.  Abhimanyu for those of you who are not aware of the case, was a student at the Indian High School in Dubai and lived in Sharjah.  On March 2, 2014, he jumped off his building's roof and took his own life.  What had stirred up even more emotions was the fact that he had written a suicide note when taking his chemistry exam on February 25, 2014.

There was uproar as many thought the school should have realized earlier.  There was uproar as many thought it was something that had happened in their school / community / city / country.  There was uproar because there was an underlying feeling of guilt most people probably felt but were too ashamed to talk about as they realized it could've happened in their own home.
Abhimanyu Sadasivan. Picture: The National.

Depression kills. 

It is as simple as that but it is something we as a society don't like to talk about.

I don't know Abhimanyu, his family, his friends or anyone who knew him personally but to blame the school solely is wrong.  The school has a part to play, but so does everyone know was associated with Abhimanyu as it seems he was depressed and with a support system, may have overcome his depression.

The uproar or guilty feeling many people felt in the aftermath of Abhimanyu's demise is related to the fact that most of us probably know someone who is depressed.  Most of us avoid bringing it up or talking about it because we are in a society that values "face" and the image of the "face."  I assume most of would rather be the person who saved a life than who preserved a "face" and as difficult as that may be a task to manage, it can start by talking a little emote openly about depression.

I'm not subject matter expert and I'm sure there are many people who could do a far better job in explaining the symptoms of depression, the types of depression and how to help someone deal with depression but we have to be receptive to educating ourselves about it.  To do that, we should have the courage to discuss depression.

To those of you in the media, I'd implore you to start writing more about it.  This editorial in the Guardian about the Elliot Rodger case should serves as a basis to start.  You have the power to educate us in saving or transforming a person's life.

To the rest of you, take a look around.  Guilt is something you feel after something tragic has happened, satisfaction is something you feel when you know you've done a job well.  If you see an opportunity to change a guilty moment into one of satisfaction for both yourself and those around you, why hesitate. 

It's sad when we lose young people in our community but instead of passing blame, let's see what are lessons learned that can avoid a tragedy like this from happening again.  In this particular, instance, let's talk depression and "face" up to the fact that we can defeat it.

Thank you Bindu Rai (@bindurai on Twitter) for your back and forth exchange on this topic with me when I had first posted the link about Abhimanyu's demise.  It helped clear my mind and create a the context for this post.  

The National had a series of articles on Abhimanyu and can be read at the links below.