The life at the University of Delhi (DU) teaches us to internalise pressure and believe that everyone is capable of handling their pressure the way we have been doing so far. Caught up in this web, we millennials tend to let go of empathy and kindness.
Last week, as the World Suicide Prevention Week was coming to an end on 14th September, in a casual conversation with a friend – who thinks Jake Peralta is the best thing that happened to planet Earth – she said to me when a movie she loved ended, “Oh God, I want to die it was that good!” Neither did it make me uncomfortable, nor did it make me question her if “wanting to die” was the phrase she actually wanted to use, but it made me laugh and move on. Only when the very next day, I found myself in my bed, wanted to vanish into a world only Jaadu could know of, did I come to think of how trivially she, and most of us, use death terminology in our daily lives. I was not suicidal – I want to make that very clear (and not only because my parents read this) – but I was triggered into a state of unbearable sadness, and numbing anxiety, due to something relatively insignificant in retrospect.
DU is a space that swings between two extremes: one, of lethargy and passivity to a point that you feel your potential decrease, or two, of activity and competition to an extent that you feel you are always short of your own best version. If you are somebody who is driven by the second extreme of DU, then the pressure of balancing academics (the neverending assignments and internal tests), internships, co-curricular, and social life, gets to you. This is not an advisory on how you need to prioritise and compartmentalise to maintain your mental health and sanity, because I know we all try to do that. Nobody likes always being on the verge of a breakdown, overworked and, in proper millennial slang, “dead inside”. But we often forget that the world around us has an integral role to play in how stressful our lives are.
For students who find themselves in the same classroom, society, or college, it is tough to develop understanding and familiarity. At our age, we are used to a certain lifestyle, a certain mindset, and a certain kind of friend circle. However, empathy is a concept we often forgo in this literal and mental journey. We are all so infused in our adjustments and issues that we trivialise the value of someone else’s issues. We are quick to pass judgments and form lasting opinions based on Instagram stories that fade away after twenty-four hours. Caught up in our 8:45 a.m. lectures, Friday deadlines, and weekend trips to Majnu ka Tilla, we generalise that everyone is capable of handling their pressure the way we have been doing so far.
When my friend suggested “death” in that moment of thoughtlessness, I paid no heed. But data suggests that there is approximately one suicide happening across the world every 40 seconds. The statistic is a frightening reminder that self-harm and death are not punchlines for over eight lakh people who die in just a year.
It is insensitive to categorise every stressed or sad youth as depressed, but it is important to understand that so much of what we do, say, or give out to the people around us – especially our peers – has the power of being a trigger. We, in our bubbles of tremendous pressure, have come to a point where we are empathetic to causes in Hong Kong and China because of accessibility, but we are mindless to the well-being of our peers, despite accessibility.
While it is not possible to save everyone around us since our well-being is compromised every day in the challenge that young adult life is, the least we can do as learners of empathy and kindness, is not pushing or even nudging, somebody off the cliff.