Odds werent in Sharmas favour


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Category: Reflections 27 Apr 08


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 abandonment.

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 education.

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 killing themselves.

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 that trap.

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 yourself.

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 solution.

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?”


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur