Reach out to the disturbed / depressed

In the last few months, very depressing news have hit the headlines… mothers taking their lives along with that of their children… sometimes infants. The latest to join this troubling list is a 33-year-old woman, who took her own life, along with that of her six-month-old daughter, by jumping from the 16th floor of her apartment in Greater Noida on Jan 11. She was reportedly suffering from depression.

Just two days earlier, a 39-year-old woman, who is the founder and CEO of a Bengaluru-based IT firm, reportedly killed her four-year-old son in a hotel in Candolim, Goa, by smothering him with a pillow, and tried to end her own life too by slitting her wrist. But this somehow went wrong, and she did not die. She checked out of the hotel, carrying her child’s lifeless body in a suitcase, and took a taxi from Goa to Bengaluru. The cause for this heinous crime is said to be her “disturbed mental status,” following a court order regarding the boy’s custody and visitation rights of the estranged husband.

Much earlier, another such disturbing story emerged from Gurugram… a 32-year-old mother smothered and killed her three-year-old daughter and then slit her own wrist, but did not die. She was arrested after she was discharged from the hospital. Apparently, she told the police, she killed her daughter in a fit of rage as the child was “bothering” her, and when she discovered the child was gone, she tried to end her own life but did not succeed. She was unhappy because of frequent fights with her husband.

We have also been seeing one too many cases of young actresses and female models, taking their own lives, mostly due to relationships with their partners turning sour.

These cases clearly indicate the depression levels that exist in our country, but unfortunately, it is still considered a taboo in our social circles to seek psychiatric help for ourselves or our loved ones. Celebrities like Bollywood icon Deepika Padukone have stepped out of the shadows and have spoken openly about depression and how professional help should be given to such people. But many more well-known people need to do so to make a
definite impact.

Research done by premium medical institutions across the world has shown that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression compared to men; some researchers claim that gap has now widened. Compared to three decades ago, today women are three times more likely than men to experience common mental health problems. Mental health and wellness have been taken up as a primary focus area this year by RI President Gordon McInally. Thanks to this focus, Rotary clubs across the world are taking a closer look at this extremely disturbing area and implementing service projects to identify and deal with mental health issues.

Every life is precious, and no human being has the right to end his/her life. A much more heinous crime is to end the life of a tiny, helpless baby who cannot defend or protect herself.

All of us need to keep our eyes, and more important, hearts open, to spot those who show signs of being mentally disturbed or depressed. If we do so, we will find them, in our families, friend circles, work places, and larger communities. Surely it’s not that difficult to reach out a hand of friendship, understanding, support, solidarity, and even concrete help….


Rasheeda Bhagat

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