It was around 8:45 pm when the bell rang. I was in my room. I could vaguely hear my dad as he rushed out of the house. Confused, I called him. After a few seconds, he picked up and I realized that he was sobbing. I’d never seen my dad cry. And then, he said something that will haunt me forever – “Raghav is gone.”
My little brother was only 18.
My brother, Raghav was the kind of person who knew when to slow down in life and live – truly live a moment, not just with his eyes but his soul. Be it a sunset, the night sky, a butterfly or a rainbow, he would give due credit to these little things we often take for granted. I don’t know, maybe he somehow knew his days here were numbered so he wanted to take in every detail, embrace it.
He was a nature enthusiast, people who knew him would agree. Often, I would find him out in the balcony looking up at the sky. “Sunsets give me hope” he used to say. “why?” I’d ask, a little confused.
“Because they are a testament that nothing truly lasts, be it good days or bad. So if you’ve had a bad day, the sun shall take it away as it sets and it’ll rise again tomorrow, giving you a fresh chance at life and I think there’s hope in that.” His words have stayed with me.
My brother passed away on 6th January, 2019. We lost him to suicide. In a matter of seconds, he was gone. Just like that. Till today we don’t know what happened and what led to the situation that pushed him to take such an extreme step. In his last days, he seemed a little restless and depressed and never let it show. He never said anything to us, how would we know?
He was my best friend and my idol. I get restless when I think of a life without him, but here I am living. The months that followed were the hardest. I was suffering from crippling anxiety, insomnia, and grief all at once. There came a time when I wanted to give up. I had lost all hope.
That’s when a voice suddenly spoke to me. It was Raghav. He reminded me of Sunsets. He had other plans for me. Over time, I realised how we never talk about mental health issues and suicide. We’re losing so many lives to this. I finally realized what I wanted to work towards for the rest of my life – advocating for mental health.
My story is not unique, this is the story of a million families who lose a brother, a sister, a father, a mother or a friend to this silent prey. According to WHO, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults. Data released recently by the online journal Lancet Public Health, as part of its Global Burden of Disease Study (1990 to 2016), revealed, for the first time, the quantum of the problem India is facing: In 2016, it had the highest number of suicide deaths and it’s only increasing every year.
Another disturbing truth that I came across while doing my research was that most of the suicide helpline numbers do not work. I dialed around 15 numbers but most of the calls went unanswered, some numbers were switched off. Only three responded.
It is now my goal to create a safe space for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts and invoke a sense of will within the government to address mental health issues.
I’ve launched a petition on Change.org asking the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to launch a national helpline number for suicide prevention in India. My petition has received 110,000+ signatures!
So many messages have been pouring in from all over the country, strangers sharing their stories and struggles.
I don’t know if God has a plan for me but I believe that Raghav does. He’s watching over me and guiding me every step of the way. I couldn’t save him but if I can save a single life through him and his story, that would be enough.
He’s taught me this-
Life will get too much for you sometimes, you will have days that are truly crappy. There will be at least two bad days for a good one because that’s life. It’s not a bed of roses but it’ll get better. Whatever you’re dealing with, it’s real. You’re not crazy, you’re not overreacting, you’re not paranoid and most importantly, you’re not alone! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You just have to reach out.
You can sign the petition here.
Written by – Raashi Thakran
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