Suicide: An Unpleasant End

Zubair Ahmad 

During the last five years, several suicide cases have occurred in Gojal Valley of Hunza district. Usually, the deaths are not investigated to figure out the reasons. Instead, the locals act fast to entomb the deceased under the shadow of social norms and religious obligations, and taboos.

Most of the bodies have been found hanging to trees, or ceiling, while at least one person died due to self-inflicted gun shot. Some young men have also died due to consumption of poisonous substance.

If we examine closely, there is a thin line between the series of events occurring in the region; all have died without a slight bit of hint passed to any close associate; none has been involved in crimes, or physical illness, or some known crisis. Why, then, are these young men allegedly killing themselves?

In most cases people construct their hypothesis by tagging the person a psychopath, sociopath, antisocial etc. very easily, while many others tie the deaths to substantial vindications, like financial breakdown, breakups, family anomaly etc. However, there has been no serious attempt to answer these paramount questions.

The factors leading to the death remain mysterious, going under the ground with the body. This practice leaves the society in a state of confusion, because people can’t wrap their heads around the tragic deaths, and potentially lose opportunities to save other victims.

People who shows signs of victimization are, usually, more prone to suicidal tendencies, because they break the fabrics between society and themselves, losing trust, and hope. It can be instructive to look at the cases of suicide from in correlation with the French sociologist Emile Durkheim’s Egoistic Suicide theory. The theory states that the more an individual is thrown into his/her own resources, suicide tendency increases immensely, because the social fabrics between the person and society becomes weaker due to independence, whenever any painstaking situation arises, the person embodies pain, sorrow, regrets over the years he/she lived alone, so it becomes strenuous to reconnect with the society. In most cases the individual feels abandoned by the society and, all along, carries all bitter experiences. This series of events provoke a negative behavior inside the person. Meanwhile, their close associates ignore those dangerous pattern of behaviors in them. Eventually the social fabrics decrees thinner to such a level that it distances the individual from the society. When all fabrics are slit down, it ends the person’s life.

If we look into other variables possibly paving ways for suicidal attempts, they can be financial crisis, family disintegrations, unsuccessful marriages, rejections from beloved ones, and so on.

All these are popularly considered pathways to end one’s life. Nevertheless in the Gojal valley suicidal cases, none of these variables are valid in any of the illustrations.

Generally speaking, there is no absolute evidence of the above mentioned characteristics found in the deceased persons, so it becomes more complicated per se., since all the persons belong to average good social circles, above average income families, good enough to eat, wear, and live happily.

To put it another perspective, the past few years have brought radical changes, especially in the economic spheres, where few individuals in every part of the valley have abruptly increased their incomes de jure or de facto.

This has released a wave of disparity in the social fabrics. In such situations, an individual tries to find similarities between him/her and others, which disturbs the set pattern of already evolved norms. Emile Durkheim describes this as social anomaly. If we look at the situation in Anomaly suicide theory, it perfectly fits per se, because the recent increase of economic activities have rendered huge gap in our social orders, where trade, tourism, social media has increased heavily, while the society was still not ready to accept such sweeping transition.

This is where an individual is unable to cope with the unanticipated changes around, and takes in so many short cut behaviors, which are supposed to come in a person over many years of socialization. With the passage of time, the social disparity shreds their ways of thinking, approach, and unforeseen future to accept any further change. For instance, when a sudden increase in a person’s income changes, his behavior also changes radically, for which he/she may not have been ready at all. This shapes their future behavior, specially in inevitable situations, where drastic negative lead to deep disappointments, shock, which results in self-harm, through indulgence is substance abuse, anti-social behavior, or also by seeking escape from the uncertainty and hopelessness. If the individual fails to cope with these situations, the ultimate escape presents itself in the destructive thought of suicide.

To summarize all above, families and friends need to observe changing behaviors of their loved ones. Whenever they observe any abnormal change in the behavior, they must talk to the people, seek help of others, or give hope, by listening and discouraging fatalistic conclusions and approaches. This is not an easy task, and it needs special expertise, but we need to be attentive, and should treat every person with respect, and avoid damaging’ someone’s self-image.

Keeping communications lines open, by asking questions, probing, sharing, listening, getting details about activities, thoughts, feelings and plans, helping through advice, suggestions, or otherwise, is important to keep the fatalistic thoughts out.

A child must not be taught fierce competition. Just let them know the benefits of living a balanced and decent life, where material, social and spiritual happiness go hand in on, instead of being in competition with self and the rest.

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