Suicide – Why? What to do?

by January 27, 2012

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over one million people commit suicide every year. This figure is more than the total annual deaths due to wars and murders combined. WHO calls this disturbing global trend — more people being killed by themselves than by others – “a tragic social health problem”.

Suicide cases highlight the gross imbal­ance in material and spiritual values in contemporary society. When people lack spiritual knowledge, they naturally live for worldly goals. Their entire sense of identity and self­worth comes from the pursuit and achievement of materialistic aims such as wealth, sensual pleasure, possessions and positions. This narrow­minded definition of suc­cess in terms of material achieve­ments lies at the root of suicidal thought. Why? Because people pursuing such goals will sooner or later be confronted with a situa­tion where they will fail to gain or fear the failure to gain what they crave for. And similarly those who possess these things will be faced with situations where they lose or fear to lose what they live for. In such situations people become so identity­less and purpose­less that they feel life not worth living. And destroying one’s very existence appears to be the only escape.

For example, a student who considers getting top grades to be his life’s only goal will feel euphoric on becoming a topper. But he is equally prone to be devastated if he fails. If he thinks that marks are the be­all and end­all in life, he may well consider his life a disgraceful failure and decide to end it.

How can spirituality help in such a situation? Spiritual knowledge from the sacred scriptures helps us understand our eternal identity as spiritual beings, beloved children of God. Spiritual practices like prayer, meditation and chanting of holy names help us experience the reality of God’s love for us. Our life becomes motivated and directed by a glorious purpose – to use all our abilities and resources in the service of God and all His children, to thus revive our dormant love for God and to share that treasure of peace and joy with all living beings. We become empowered by the conviction that even if everything goes wrong and everyone misunderstands us, still one person cares for us, understands us and stays unflin­chingly with us at all times – God. Just as an intelligent child sees the love of the mother, not only in her pat, but also in her slap,spirituality helps us to see God’s love, not only in times of success, but also in times of failure. We see life in the proper perspective – not as a hundred meter sprint in pursuit of fleeting pleasures, but as a hundred kilometer marathon in pursuit of everlasting joy. Even amidst reversals, we see the road to eternal glory still beckoning us. Buoyed by the protecting and reassuring presence of God in our hearts and lives, we march confidently through the ups and downs of life.

Sociological research confirms, the more a student like Ravi or Umesh prays to God or visits a temple or reads spiritual books, the less likely he’ll commit suicide. And the more he dumps the spiritual side of life, the more likely he is to slash his wrists, put a gun to his head, or end his life with pills. Let us therefore strive to ourselves assimi­late and disseminate spiritual wisdom and thus help people lead balanced, meaningful, peaceful and cheerful lives.

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