I was in school then. On my way to school, some eve-teasers had crossed my path. That day, in some class, I was teamed up with this classmate I had never spoken to earlier. As I narrated how upset I was with those eve-teasers, he listened patiently. And then, the rest of the day was sunshine. I didn’t know how and why I was happy again after I found a stranger who would listen to me. Something better happened to this person – a bomber during the Vietnam War – who had made up his mind to kill himself. He found someone and that someone ignited his desire to live again.
Auschwitz, committing suicide, health, Holocaust, medicine, mental health, mentally ill patients, Nazis, psychiatrist, psychiatrists, psychiatry, Ravensbruck, Ravensbrucke, suicidal, Suicide, war, World War
My father’s friend – a pediatrician – has a daughter who is a psychiatrist. The Pediatrician was telling me how after her daughter’s client committed suicide, her daughter was devastated. She had tried so hard to help her patient. Another doctor I know was talking about her psychiatrist friend who has to leave all her work (even in the middle of attending to patients) if a patient who is suicidal calls up. One of her patients was on the brink of committing suicide when the patient called and she had to talk him out of it.
I remember meeting a psychiatrist, while she was not working, and I found her impenetrable – her training was such that her face betrayed no emotions and it was difficult to gauge what she was thinking. In spite of the stoic exterior, psychiatrists are humans and need help when their mentally ill patients, whom they are helping, choose death despite everything. In United States, some patients’ families sue doctors when patients commit suicide. As a result, if doctors hear that someone is suicidal, they refuse to help in the fear of being dragged to the court besides the fear of feeling a failure if the patient would not respond to the treatment. To add to the woes, mental-health practitioners who lose a patient can face stigma from their colleagues too. Sadder still, left to nobody’s care are seriously mentally-ill patients who can’t find doctors to treat them.
Did you know about the existence of Ravensbruck, a place similar to Auschwitz but different only for being a concentration camp that housed only females? The place housed not only Jewish women but also any kind of woman that the Nazis didn’t want to freely roam in the country. It was such a horrifying place that few women came out of it alive. A book that has compiled the horrors of the place, and courage of the survivors talks about it:
Robin Williams and Suicide
Losing Robin Williams is sad. It is sadder that we lost him to suicide. Here’s a well-written piece on how brilliance and intelligence can be isolating, how fame is never enough for a fame-hungry star, how good work is never enough for a perfectionist, and why the death of Robin Williams makes such large ripples than most deaths.
Charles Bukowski’s letter of gratitude
As much as I liked the writing in the article mentioned above, I like to talk about people who are not only survivors but more. Here is a letter of gratitude from writer Charles Bukowski to a publisher – John Martin (whose help freed Bukowski of his day job and got him to dedicate his time following his passion – writing) – with some beautiful insights. Bukowski tells us about how slavery never left us and that we are slaves to systems, processes, and work in general. Worse, we go back every day to the slave job. He says it better himself: “They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work.”