Guest post by Nipa Shah

Suicides are a tragedy in any and all communities, no question about it.

Just in the past three weeks, I heard of three suicides that have happened within a 60 mile radius in Metro-Detroit. Of the three, two were of Indian origin (from India). I also know two other families who lost a child to suicide; one in the past year and one just over 15 years ago. Frankly, even one suicide is too many to know of as far as I am concerned and so knowing of four suicides within the Indian community in Michigan makes me overwhelmed and extremely sad.

Three out of four of the above were male between the ages of 22 and 31. The fourth was a female over the age of 50.

Regardless of age, gender, or race, a suicide raises one common question: WHY?

Why did the person decide to end his or her life? Was it loneliness? Was it depression? Was it a chemical imbalance? Was it peer pressure?

Why did they not consider what their families would go through when they committed suicide? Or were they completely incapable of thinking of anything besides the helplessness they faced?

The latest suicide prompted me to post on my Facebook page the need for us to continuously remind our friends and family that they are loved and the need for awareness.

In the US, the Indian community is close and yet not so close to each other. Socially Indians do a lot of stuff together; celebrating their professional successes with a lot of personal get-togethers and parties. Professionally it is a well-known and well-understood fact that few people go out of their way to help other Indians in need. Also, the fear of gossip prevents people from talking about real serious problems to others. And there-in lies the problem.

To all of you reading this blog, what would you do if someone you know came to you and told you that they are depressed and wished they were dead or have contemplated ending their life? Would you give them a pat and say “come on, it’s ok, things will be better” or give some false platitudes to make light of the comment? OR will you take it seriously enough to recommend that they take professional help?

And that’s the other problem as I see it. We may miss obvious “help” requests from our loved ones by thinking that they are joking or by avoiding unpleasant conversations.

So what is my point? Why am I pontificating on this topic?

I don’t know if suicides be prevented with more awareness but I believe that MORE awareness is needed in the Indian American community. Although we have a community organization like Michigan Family Services (MAIFS.org), I believe that more involvement and community outreach is needed. We need to host discussions and forums to raise awareness. WE need to tell our friends and families that they are loved. We need to spread the word that NOTHING is worth killing yourself over, nothing!

Do you have any thoughts on how you’d like to create community outreach and awareness? I’d love to hear your thoughts…please comment or reach me directly through my website: www.jenesysgroup.com.