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.


Anushree Joshi

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What is a safe space? In life, we all need a place where we can be confident and true to ourselves – to relax, to rant, and to let it all out.

A safe space is a place or environment in which a person or a category of people can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm. It can be a community, a person, a thing, a place, or a feeling; as long as you feel at home and peace, it is your safe space. The world is an inherently selfish, and stressful place. More often than not, college can become an excessively jarring experience, taking its toll on our mental health. Thus, this is when the need for an escape arises with urgency — a place to be yourself, to express yourself, and to discover yourself, without being conjectured. It becomes a place of acceptance, and it helps us to come to peace with ourselves, and that is a powerful perspective. But why are safe spaces important? A survey revealed that one in every four college students reported being diagnosed with, or treated for, a mental disorder.

Besides the aforementioned, 20% of all surveyed students were revealed to have had suicidal thoughts, 9% reported a suicide attempt, and nearly 20% reported self-injury. There are two types of stress in existence: eustress and distress. A little stress and anxiety are good for our performance; they help us work up to our best potential. But when this turns into distress, it can take a toll on our mental and physical health. It is  common place to feel spent after having your guard up constantly. Safe spaces, thus, become a place to unwind and feel cathartic. All of us arrive at college carrying trauma or some form of emotional baggage. We are thrust into a new environment that can often become an academic pressure cooker, and we have to figure out how to take care of ourselves without the hovering support of our family or community at home. It is then that safe spaces become a tool. Safe spaces can help you feel cherished and respected. They can provide a break from unsolicited opinions, and having to explain yourself to others.

A safe space can be anything: it can be a best friend to whom you can rant  about when you’re feeling blue, it can be your curated Spotify playlist, it can be your guitar, your favourite book, or your room, or your favourite food. It can be ranting on social media, and it can be your home. It can be absolutely anything that you wish for it to be.

That is precisely the point of a safe space — it is something that allows you to be you. It allows you to recuperate, and it allows you to build resilience that can be accessed in moments of conflict. It allows us to accept ourselves, feel comfortable in our skin, and function as emotionally mature adults. It takes powerful perspective to understand that being “burdened” is not normal, and we owe it to ourselves to continue our pursuit for balance.

Feature Image Credits: Rishabh Gogoi for DU Beat

Shreya Juyal
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