Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Aman Singh, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. Aman Singh

    Aman Singh Admin SPNer

    Jun 1, 2004
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    "They are all crazy here, a bunch of nuts" says Aman (please bear in mind that this is a fictional name).

    I glance over my shoulder to see a well dressed, perfectly coiffed woman screaming obscenities and being led away
    by a security guard wearing latex gloves. "You would never think she is crazy," he mutters.

    Even though I have been exposed to many things in my career, nevertheless I am taken aback by this comment.

    I thought my Friday at work would be an uneventful one until I got that call from my colleague at the other college campus. She informed me that Aman had left a message to say she wasn't doing too well in school. Being a bit surprised, I call her to make sure that everything is okay. Last week she seemed to be in good spirits while we worked on an assignment together.

    "I want to kill myself," she says. Even though I am bit perturbed, my training on suicide prevention instantly kicks into high gear and I probe further and ask her how she planned to carry this out. "I am going to swallow 40 aspirins and wait to die; there is nothing in life to look forward to".

    I remind myself that this is the time of the semester that we find students in crisis, it happens predictably every month around mid-terms.

    Personal issues that have been percolating over time, the stress of endless assignments, group work and exams to study for, can push some students to the edge. This time it could have had disastrous consequences.

    Aman agrees to meet with her psychiatrist at a local hospital and I convince her to allow me to meet her there to ensure that she got the help needed. I breathe a sigh of relief, she made my job and her life a little easier, and usually calls of this nature do not always go so smoothly. In rare cases, the police have to be called and students feel betrayed.

    My mind races with a million thoughts as I get into my car to drive to the hospital. Even though I have made similar calls in the past, there is nothing routine about responding to someone who wants to end it all.

    What glimmer of hope can I offer? How can I use my limited knowledge of gurbani to offer words of solace? What would gurbani say about this?

    Surely some people in the times of the gurus, (the ones so blessed to be on earth at the same time) must have suffered from mental health issues? How would the Gurus offer solace to someone so desperate that they felt life was not worth living.

    Especially in light of the fact that gurbani often reminds us that the human form has been achieved through suffering and pain, transmigration and the pain of birth and death. That the body is a gift and temple devoted to God and that death is not a choice/ right that we humans exercise. I asked my Guru to guide me.

    Aman has been battling depression and schizophrenia for the past 30 years, s he has been in and out of the psychiatric ward more times than she can remember. Her disability is an invisible one, people tell her it's all in her head.

    That is true. Chemical imbalances have origins in the brain and there is a genetic pre-disposition as well.

    "There is no God. If there was, I would not be here suffering like this".

    At that moment, her words weighed heavily on my own shoulders. I have pondered and struggled with this very question myself.

    I remember a verse by Guru Gobind Singh that life is a battlefield and that we must leave the earth fighting the good fight.

    We all have a cross to bear, I tell Aman, remnants of past lives that affect us in the present one and which we must go to battle with, to overcome. "I must have bad karma" she replies. Karma is neither good nor bad, we as humans attach meaning to it.

    "I am going to take pills. If I had the guts, I would jump in front of a subway train but I don't!" Aman offers.

    She looks at me and I know at that point she does not really want to die.

    People who are suicidal are severely depressed, some may be trying to end the pain, others think that life is futile and their ability to cope is dramatically diminished.

    Most people in this situation have made at least one previous attempt. When people are suicidal, they feel helpless and trapped. Their normal coping skills and problem solving abilities may be impaired, preventing them from being able
    to think creatively of the many options they have.

    One of my future projects is to look at the rate of suicide in our own Sikh community. It does happen but it is a topic we are very uncomfortable discussing. We often dismiss it as fate or karma. I remember many years ago, the sangat was really shaken: a teenager who used to do seva and who attended kirtan classes regularly had killed himself. So very sad, devastating for the family, the pain so unbearable ... so unlike that of a relative lost to age, disease or natural causes.

    In retrospect, we wondered about any clues or signs that we could have been more attuned to help this particular individual. People who commit suicide do not fit a mold, they are just as likely to have a psychiatric history or be the honour-roll student who appears to have their ducks lined up in a row. The commonality is that they at some point have cried out for help, sometimes very subtle things such as giving away their favourite belongings, talking of giving up and wishing they were not on
    earth. They may begin to withdraw from family and friends and isolate themselves from the world thinking that their support system won't care or will be better off without them.

    Aman and I are standing outside the intimidating glass partition that separates the patients from the nursing staff. Security guards are a common sight here since many people do not seek help willingly. After we meet with her doctor, who admits her for the weekend, Aman turns to me and says "Parveen, you are just delaying the inevitable."

    Walking away from the hospital, I wonder if I had really helped her. Temporarily yes, but what about the next time? What if she goes through with her plan after being released? I hope for the better.

    I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Aman walked into my office on Monday to say she was feeling much better. I write a few quick e-mails to her professors to get extensions for assignments and extra time for exams. This may seem like a small thing but this is the glimmer of hope applied in practical terms. I caution myself to check-in with Aman on a regular basis, her disability is a permanent one and this type of scenario is likely to play out again.

    If you have a family member or friend you are concerned about, please tell them so. You will not encourage thoughts of suicide by just asking this question. You will have a chance to offer some hope to this person and to talk them out of it. | The Art and Culture of the Diaspora | Suicide

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  2. Archived_Member16

    Archived_Member16 SPNer Thinker

    Jan 7, 2005
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    Suicide. We would rather not talk about it. We hope it will never happen to anyone we know. But suicide is a reality, and it is more common than you might think. The possibility that suicide could claim the life of someone you love cannot be ignored. By paying attention to warning signs and talking about the "unthinkable," you may be able to prevent a death.

    Who is at risk?
    People likely to commit suicide include those who:
    • are having a serious physical or mental illness,
    • are abusing alcohol or drugs,
    • are experiencing a major loss, such as the death of a loved one, unemployment or divorce,
    • are experiencing major changes in their life, such as teenagers and seniors,
    • have made previous suicide threats.
    Why do people commit suicide?
    There are many circumstances which can contribute to someone's decision to end his/her life, but a person's feelings about those circumstances are more important than the circumstances themselves. All people who consider suicide feel that life is unbearable. They have an extreme sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and desperation. With some types of mental illness, people may hear voices or have delusions which prompt them to kill themselves.

    People who talk about committing suicide or make an attempt do not necessarily want to die. Often, they are reaching out for help. Sometimes, a suicide attempt becomes the turning point in a person's life if there is enough support to help him/her make necessary changes.

    If someone you know is feeling desperate enough to commit suicide, you may be able to help him/her find a better way to cope. If you yourself are so distressed that you cannot think of any way out except by "ending it all," remember, help for your problems is available.

    What are the danger signs?
    Some warning signs that a person may be suicidal include:

    • repeated expressions of hopelessness, helplessness, or desperation,
    • behaviour that is out of character, such as recklessness in someone who is normally careful,
    • signs of depression - sleeplessness, social withdrawal, loss of appetite, loss of interest in usual activities,
    • a sudden and unexpected change to a cheerful attitude,
    • giving away prized possessions to friends and family,
    • making a will, taking out insurance, or other preparations for death, such as telling final wishes to someone close,
    • making remarks related to death and dying, or an expressed intent to commit suicide. An expressed intent to commit suicide should always be taken very seriously.
    Prevent a suicide attempt
    If you are concerned that someone may be suicidal, take action. If possible, talk with the person directly. The single-most important thing you can do is listen attentively without judgement.

    Talking about suicide can only decrease the likelihood that someone will act on suicidal feelings. There is almost no risk that raising the topic with someone who is not considering suicide will prompt him/her to do it.

    Find a safe place to talk with the person, and allow as much time as necessary. Assure him/her of your concern and your respect for his/her privacy. Ask the person about recent events, and encourage him/her to express his/her feelings freely. Do not minimize the feelings involved.

    Ask whether the person feels desperate enough to consider suicide. If the answer is yes, ask, "Do you have a plan? How and where do you intend to kilI yourself?"

    Admit your own concern and fear if the person tells you that he/she is thinking about suicide but do not react by saying, 'You shouldn't be having these thoughts; things can't be that bad." Remember, you are being trusted with someone's deepest feelings. Although it may upset you, talking about those feeling will bring the person relief.

    Ask if there is anything you can do. Talk about resources that can be drawn on (family, friends, community agencies, crisis centres) to provide support, practical assistance, counselling or treatment.

    Make a plan with the person for the next few hours or days. Make contacts with him/her or on his/her behalf. If possible, go with the person to get help.

    Let the person know when you can be available, and then make sure you are available at those times. Also, make sure your limits are known, and try to arrange that there is always someone that he/she can call at any time of day.

    Ask who else knows about the suicidal feelings. Are there other people who should know? Is the person willing to tell them? Unfortunately, not everyone will treat this issue sensitively. Confidentiality is important, but do not keep the situation secret if a life is clearly in danger.

    Stay in touch to see how he/she is doing. Praise the person for having the courage to trust you and for continuing to live and struggle.

    What to do following a suicide attempt
    A person may try to commit suicide without warning or despite efforts to help. If you are involved in giving first aid, make every effort to be calm and reassuring, and get medical help immediately.

    The time following an attempt is critical. The person should receive intensive care during this time. Maintain regular contact, and work with the person to organize support. It is vital that he/she does not feel cut off or shunned as a result of attempting suicide.

    Be aware that, if someone is intent on dying, you may not be able to stop it from happening. You cannot and should not carry the responsibility for someone else's choice.

    What can you do if you are feeling suicidal?
    The beginning of the way out is to let someone else in. This is very hard to do because, if you feel so desperate that suicide seems to be the only solution, you are likely very frightened and ashamed. There is no reason to be ashamed of feeling suicidal and no reason to feel ashamed for seeking help. You are not alone; many people have felt suicidal when facing difficult times and have survived, usually returning to quite normal lives.

    Take the risk of telling your feelings to someone you know and trust: a relative, friend, social service worker, or a member of the clergy for your religion. There are many ways to cope and get support. The sense of desperation and the wish to die will not go away at once, but it will pass. Regaining your will to live is more important than anything else at the moment.

    Some things that you can do are:
    • call a crisis telephone support line,
    • draw on the support of family and friends,
    • talk to your family doctor; he/she can refer you to services in the community, including counselling and hospital services,
    • set up frequent appointments with a mental health professional, and request telephone support between appointments, · get involved in self-help groups,
    • talk every day to at least one person you trust about how you are feeling,
    • think about seeking help from the emergency department of a local hospital,
    • talk to someone who has 'been there" about what it was like and how he/she coped,
    • avoid making major decisions which you may later regret.
    Do you need more help?
    If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal and you need more information about resources in your area, contact a community organization, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, which can help you find additional support.


    Suicide - The Sikh view:

    Sikh moral thinking:

    Sikhs derive their ethics largely from the teachings of their scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, and the Sikh Code of Conduct (the Rehat Maryada).

    Guidance also comes from the example set by the gurus, and from the experience of the Sikh community over the last 500 years.


    Sikhs have a high respect for life which they see as a gift from God. Most Sikhs are against suicide, as they believe that the timing of birth and death should be left in God's hands.
    <DIR><DIR>The Sikh Gurus rejected suicide, as it is an interference in God's plan.

    Many Sikhs faced torture and ultimate death at the hands of tyrant rulers and fanatic leaders, though they could have found relief through suicide.

    Suffering, they said, was part of the operation of karma, and human beings should not only accept it without complaint but act so as to make the best of the situation that karma has given them.

    The Gurus regarded that man must have the moral courage to bear his suffering without lament.

    He should pray for the grace of God to enable him to put up with pain in a spirit of resignation and surrender.

    </DIR></DIR>Birth and death are the prerogatives of God and under His command, and it is no business of man to oppose the Divine Will.

    Care for others:

    Much of Sikh moral teaching is devoted to caring for others who are less fortunate.

    This suggests that the Sikh reaction to situations where people think about suicide would be to provide such good care that suicide becomes an unattractive option.


    The Gurus rejected suicide, as we do not have the right to give or take life. Birth and death are the mercy of our dear creator.

    Sikhism (as already said) believes that life is a gift from God, but it also teaches that we have a duty to use life in a responsible way.

    Thus, it is amply clear that there is no place for suicide in Sikhism. After all suffering is a part of the human condition and has a place in God's scheme. Suffering also prompts man to turn his thoughts to God.
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin 1947-2014 (Archived) SPNer Supporter

    Jun 17, 2004
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    Beautiful. And this is a calling for us to learn how to care more and openly for the people around us, rather than to criticize and condemn someone who opens up and admits they feel depressed and lost. There are many things about human emotion that do not make sense, nor do they have to make sense. Compounding depression with judgment and shame does not become us.
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  4. Archived_Member16

    Archived_Member16 SPNer Thinker

    Jan 7, 2005
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    The Spiritual Consequences of Suicide
    by Erin Pavlina

    Let’s talk about suicide and its aftereffects from a spiritual perspective. I often get emails from people asking if they should commit suicide and wanting to know what will happen to their souls when they do. That’s a really good question.

    We’re going to use the analogy of a play, as in a theatre production. When you incarnate you pick your parents and life circumstances. You are, in effect, accepting a role in a play. A lot of behind the scenes work goes into creating your role in this play. Other people may have wanted the role but you got it. Now you’re responsible for what you do with it.

    So you incarnate and you’re doing your part just fine. Then one day you find that the play is getting harder and harder to perform. Maybe you’re late for a performance. Maybe you don’t like the lines you’re getting. Maybe the audience is heckling you. Maybe your role is just really tough; you’re in every scene, and you don’t feel like you have a chance to catch your breath. Maybe you’re in no scenes and you’re starting to feel ignored or like nobody cares. Maybe you don’t like your fellow actors. Maybe someone else in the play is hurting you. For whatever reason, the role you’ve got just doesn’t make you happy any longer and you want to quit.

    Like in a real play, when you quit your role without notice, i.e. committing suicide, you leave a gaping hole in your wake. The role you were meant to play is no longer being filled. So the other actors have to work around your part. If there was a love scene coming up, that other actor now has no one to perform with. Scenes need to be rewritten. Lines need to be reworked. Shows may even need to be cancelled or rescheduled. And you know what? You’re responsible.

    I don’t just mean you’re responsible for leaving them in this mess. You’re responsible for fixing it, even from the other side. When you commit suicide you are removing yourself from the play which intersects tens or even hundreds of lives (or more). Prearranged meetings now cannot take place. Children you were going to have now have to find other parents or life circumstances. When you prematurely drop out of the play you leave a lot of people hanging. You can give up your role, but you cannot give up the responsibility you had in that role.

    So let’s switch gears for a moment and discuss what happens when you cross over after a suicide. You leave your body and one of two things happens. First, you may immediately regret what you’ve done, and you find yourself in a state of shame and/or guilt, two of the lowest levels of consciousness you can be in. In this state you’re not even capable of helping yourself let alone fixing up the lives of the people you left behind. What I’ve seen on the other side is that people in this situation tend not to cross over fully, fearing judgment for what they’ve done. In truth, there is no need to judge yourself so harshly, but if you find yourself in this state it’s really difficult not to be hard on yourself. Angels come and try to help you to cross over. They do this by helping you feel the love of Source or God. If that doesn’t get through to you, they’ll gently help you raise your energy so you can feel it. Some people are so stuck in their low vibration state, however, that it can take what amounts to years to fully cross over. See the movie, What Dreams May Come, for more on this concept which the movie covered extremely well.

    Not everyone who suicides sinks down into shame and guilt. Sometimes people do get to the other side and realize that although there are consequences to their suicide they can deal with them. These people are able to maintain a fairly high state of awareness and get busy working with the guides to fill the vacancy they’ve left behind. Threads need to be rewoven into the tapestry of life. New encounters need to take place. New events in the maze of life need to be created. What happens is that you will work with the guides of the people whose lives you were meant to touch in a significant way to make sure these people are still able to learn their own lessons and live their own purposes without your presence. Once you complete this process (which could take a while depending on many factors) you are free of the karma you attracted by suiciding and are released to the “after life.”

    So, you are allowed to quit. Free will ensures that you have the right to take your own life. But you must be aware of the consequences and the responsibility you have to every single person whose life you would have touched in a significant way. It’s like if you were a parent of a small child and you wanted to go out for the evening, you need to hire a babysitter to take care of that child while you’re gone. If you leave without doing that first, the child could suffer terribly and then you would be responsible for that.

    I know life can seem really tough sometimes. Most of the people I know have contemplated suicide at some point in their lives. Sometimes life seems overwhelmingly hard. But you can change your life any time you want. Whatever you’ve gotten yourself into, there’s a way out that doesn’t involve quitting. You may get to the end of your life completely worn out, broken, and even devastated, but from a spiritual perspective that’s better than quitting. When you quit you still have to learn all the lessons you came here to learn, so the next time you incarnate it isn’t going to get easier, it will probably be harder.

    Don’t quit the play. Ask for help. Maybe you can be sent on vacation and your understudy can perform your role for a while. Maybe you can get the writers to give you fewer lines, or more support in your scenes. But don’t quit. People are counting on you, including your higher self. God only gives you as much as you can handle, but sometimes it’s hard to remember how strong you really are. You’re allowed to ask for help. God gives you that too … when you ask for it. Accept the help when it comes.

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