I confess. I am an extremely private person; shy to the point of wanting to melt with the woodwork. And so was my late husband, Dr. TR Murali. And both of us were publicity-shy. I took it even further, by even shunning social media.
However, my husband’s tragic death by suicide, made my very private life and grief very public. Overnight, there I was, trying to shield myself from the unrelenting harsh public gaze that a death by suicide attracts.
While sensationalism and speculation are rampant around suicidal deaths, I discovered there is a conspiracy of silence around informed compassionate conversations of suicidal deaths among the families and friends of those bereaved by suicide. The prevailing attitude seems to be, “If we are not comfortable about something—say, suicide—let’s avoid discussing about it.” This, unfortunately, is an ostrich-like approach to avoid facing inconvenient truths.
How many of you have heard of the term survivor of suicide loss? Like most of you, I too hadn’t heard of this term until a year back I was bereaved. A survivor of suicide loss is a family member or close friend who has lost a loved one to suicide. Because, you see, until it happened to me; until it happened in my family; suicide was something that happened to other people. I lived in a glass house. And glass, as we all know, is the most fragile of substances.
However, unlike glass, I refused to be broken. Because broken implies a state of damage. Something that needs to be fixed with external help, something that can never be whole again. As a survivor of suicide loss, I refuse to subscribe to such disempowering stereotypes.
Yes, I was shattered by suicide. Since the last one year, I’ve groped for the fragments of my life in the debris of devastation. I found precious pieces; pregnant with hope; with which I’ve begun to reconstruct my life. The image is hazy, but behind the pixilation, I can see the hint of something powerful and beautiful—my life that I am reclaiming. My journey has just begun… The road ahead for me, like other survivors of suicide loss, is challenging.
SPEAK, composted in my grief and sorrow, is an attempt to reach out to survivors of suicide loss; to help people rebuild their lives. SPEAK decided to launch itself. It has had an energy and momentum of its own. It choses where to flow; whom to reach out to. I am just a channel for the Force to flow through… let the Force take me where it wants to…
SPEAK is not a platform to promote or garner publicity for myself. Yes, it is a platform to promote a cause—preventing suicide; creating a zero-suicide world, idealistic as it sounds. And that the cause is far greater than the people behind it. So, it is with SPEAK. I claim no individual ownership or copyright over SPEAK.
Why am I SPEAKING with you? Because addressing suicide is everybody’s business.
So, how can you help? By reaching out to survivors of suicide loss and people at risk of suicide with love, compassion and empathy.
And please, please don’t judge and condemn what you cannot possibly even remotely understand.
Dr. Nandini Murali
Dr. Nandini Murali is a feminist and a gender and diversity professional. She is an author who also provides technical support in communications for the social sector. When she is not working, she heads off to the forests with her camera. Currently, she has a magnificent obsession with photographing leopards!