Deaths in quiet desperation

Suzette Jordan, also known as the Park Street rape survivor, died today. Medically it is a form of encephalitis that killed her. But people who have known her for some time now, talk of the toll the incident had taken on her. Publicly Jordan was a picture of a fighter, choosing to disclose her name, her face, in a country where the raped are shamed more than the rapist. Hopefully that is changing somewhat now, though it hadnt changed enough for Jordan. Her friend Harish Iyer wrote in The Newsminute about how the fatal disease was because her immunity was compromised by the depression the incident and its aftermath had caused.

Suzette is not the only one, there are many who are shaken by one seemingly random, violent crime that may not kill them immediately, but slowly sucks the life out of them. In 2012 lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha was brutally murdered by her building watchman. Her partner Avik Sengupta discovered her bloodied body when he reached home a few hours later. Its a sight very few of us can erase from our memories in a lifetime. While the watchman was convicted later, Sengupta was not alive to see it. He died of a brain disease a year after Pallavi’s death. No one who reported then can forget how lost 26 year old Sengupta had looked the day after the murder as he came to register the FIR. He spent the next year trying to forget, making music, appreciating art, trying to work, but the trauma won.

I once had a friend, A, I have written about him before. About a year after a devastating breakup, he rammed his bike on to a truck on a highway, an accident they say. The year he was alive was spent alternating between trying to get the girl back and trying to pretend he was moving on. He was not even 25.

There is a case, still under trial, where grief, or more appropriately depression has manifested much later. For the sake of the trial and those left behind its not appropriate to name this case or the sibling of the victim who is now undergoing treatment. Almost 3 years on, this sibling feels the system has been unfair and his depression manifests itself as online rants to all and sundry. Luckily he has got help now.

Actress Deepika Padukone spoke earlier this year about how waking up everyday was a strain when she was in the throes of depression. She was lucky to have her family support her and got help on time too.

A violent incident, whether physical or mental, can turn many lives into ones of quiet desperation. It could be a single trauma or a death by thousand cuts scenario. Depression really does kill. Sometimes it forces people to take their own lives. At other times, every day seems like just one more form of death, even though most survivors fight hard. Sometimes all the support, all the accolades for having survived dont help. Mostly everyone fights back, mostly the will to live is bigger than the depression. But sometimes there are deaths in quiet desperation.

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