SUICIDE is described as the solution
to emotional turmoil (lethal cocktails of rage, humiliation, sadness,
defeat), so massive that the relief of deciding to kill yourself, the
prospect of an end to the hellish mental anguish, puts people in a great
mood before they actually pull the plug on their lives.
In the two suicides we’ve seen
recently—that of a 50-year-old woman who drove herself off a cliff after
drinking a pesticide and a 40-year-old man who poisoned his children before
killing himself—we saw a magnified manifestation of the human condition and
something about the way men and women cope with one another.
Both suicides were about an
inability to cope. Both were about depression.
Psychiatrists say men’s suicides are
generally about loss of control, whereas women’s are linked to a sense of
When Sharma Sieuchan, a reportedly
violent, abusive husband poisoned his children before committing suicide, he
left his mark on the world, through his son and his daughter...with terrible
odds of repeating the cycle of victim and perpetrator.
It wasn’t enough to kill himself. He
wanted control over his children’s lives, too, and if that meant poisoning
them, so be it. He was in charge.
The odds were not good for Sharma,
anyway. Studies show that male suicide rates are rising much faster than
female suicides. Male depression is on the rise; male violence is on the
rise; alcohol and drug abuse is on the rise.
Why? Men and their egos (studies
show) can’t cope with the changing world.
Studies show men are struggling
academically, and are consistently outshone by women at every level of
The male ego, accustomed to years of
patronising women, of being the head of the household, the breadwinner, took
a huge battering.
How do you show your superiority to
a woman who is brighter, commands equal pay, is as competent as you? Why,
you can bash her around, give her a love slap or two.
But men have found all that does
after the initial triumph is to push the women they love away. All violence
does is isolate.
Since men base so much of their core
identity on their work, and on the sense of power and control it gives them,
the threat of unemployment is as damaging as actual unemployment.
Women have a lower rate of
committing suicide. Still, I was surprised, knowing how far we’d come to see
that studies cited “relationship issues” as the No 1 reason for women
We women also have stayed stuck in
our own damaging stereotype—that of basing our identity on the person we
love, rather than a sense of our own destiny.
And really, is that dependency
“love” any more than male control is love? Both are born of weakness, an
inability to do our own thing with passion, with the world, to define
ourselves, by ourselves.
Even professional women fall into
Ironically, women remain their own
worst enemies. If we ever see a woman going for what she wants, we condemn
her as a “bitch.”
We don’t teach our sons that it is
macho to be kind; that it is weak to lash those physically weaker than
I lay in bed awake several nights,
indulging in magical thinking, rolling back time to when Sharma Sieuchan and
Sabrina Ramlogan were alive, what they could have done instead of that final
I concluded they were living other
people’s lives. It’s like painting a deity and endowing it with all that you
want out of life and then worshipping it.
When it doesn’t do your bidding the
man crushes the deity, poisons the children. The woman crushes herself. The
result is devastating:
A way of not living courageously,
forgetting that even the worst passes, and condemning those who are left
behind to a lifetime of asking “why?”