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‘Muhammad Hassan, 27 years old is an engineering student enrolled in the MS Systems Program, on scholarship, at PIEAS was found lifeless, hanged to an iron rack in his dorm room on Monday, 17th of July 2017’ This is what I read today… And this is what I read a few months ago: ‘Two teenage girls commit suicide in Islamabad’ And this is what I read last year: ‘Twenty-one year old, AKU medical student, Waseem Ullah commits suicide’
And: ‘Eighteen-year-old boy shot himself with his father’s pistol when his father scolded him for refusing to take an entry test’ This. What will I read tomorrow? What will I read next month? What will I read next year? I guess the right question is that why did I have to read any of this in the first place? Why does anyone have to read that a bright, intelligent person like Muhammad Hassan committed suicide and was found two days later in his dorm room? That an outstanding medical student ended his own life because of family problems? Why?
Because we are failing. We are failing as parents. As siblings. As friends. As mentors. We are failing as a nation. We are failing to provide that level of trust, that level of companionship, that level of solace, that level of facilitation that a person needs. Have we become so ruthless that we cannot even be there for the ones we say, we love so much? Have we become so ignorant that we simply ignore what an individual is capable of doing rather than forcing him to do what we want?
Have we become so self-centered that we cannot take out five minutes from our days to ask someone how they are feeling? Is it so important that they become doctors and engineers even if it ruins who they really are? Why don’t our education systems worry about the psychological pressures that their students face rather than adding books after books to their courses? Why can our government not provide proper mental health care facilities when more than half the population is suffering from mental issues like PTSD, depression, and anxiety?
Why have we made talking about sexual abuse, depression, parental control, bullying, family pressure, domestic violence, suicide and so – very hard and taboo? Why do we worry about new and better roads while our children are dying because of the environment that we have created for them? Because of the standards that we have set for them? Why? Think. Think and then answer. Because we need answers. Answers to these questions which we dare not ask.
In 2002, World Health Organization estimated that around 15,000 people committed suicide in Pakistan. Around 50,000 to 150,000 people attempted suicide and a vast majority of all of these were under 30 years old. 30 years old. Physically fit, intelligent and the main backbone of our country lost like that. And, I did not find any piece of information which stated figures of how the situation is right now, but I do know that it is much worse. How many more gems will we keep on losing like this? How many?
I know that ranting on Facebook about my frustrations after reading today’s news won’t do any good. But I honestly cannot begin to explain what I am feeling right now. Maybe I am just able to relate to a small portion of what these souls must have felt before ending it all forever. We don’t know what their problems were and why they chose to take this step, only Allah knows best, but they were not weak. They were not selfish. They were just tired. And letting them go just because they were tired is so wrong.
So I would like to make a request to our government to please, please take this issue into consideration seriously and make mental health care facilities available and reachable without any stigma for every citizen. I would request our educational institutes to please at least try to bring a change in this stressful and flawed education system which is now clearly doing more harm than good. And I would request our society, our families and our parents to please, please understand the people who are around you.
Understand their needs. Don’t label them as being ‘weak’ and don’t label mental health care providers as being ‘pagalon ka doctor.’ We don’t need stigmas. We don’t need that. Because once you put yourselves in their shoes, only then we will realize what wrong we did to them, how unfair we were to them. Only then will we realize that they were alone when they needed someone the most. And that is when we will realize that humanity is far gone from where monsters like us reside.