February 26, 2005
by Kevin Caruso
“I want to kill myself,” said Rajeev, a 32-year-old tsunami survivor from Banda Aceh, Indonesia. “That’s all I think about now; I just want to die.”
Rajeev lost his wife, two daughters, his home, and all of his possessions in the tsunami.
He immediately fell into a very deep depression.
“Why should I go on? Why?” he said. “I have nothing to live for, nothing at all. I am just empty. There is nothing for me, now or ever. My wife has died; my children have died. So why should I live? I will be better off dead.
“I cannot sleep. I cannot do anything. I feel so bad all of the time. I miss my wife and children. I do not want to work. I do not want to do anything. And I do not think that I will do anything. It is time for me to die. Why did my wife and children die and not me? Why? I am here for nothing. I need to die. I want to die. I should kill myself.
“I was happy before. But I am not happy now. I am not. Why were my wife and children taken from me? Why? I do believe that I must die because I will not be happy again. It is not possible for me to be happy again. Not possible. I am very sad. I have never been sad like this before. And my wife and children are gone forever. So I have nothing but my
sadness; nothing but this sadness and my desire to die. So I will die. I will kill myself”
Rajeev is now receiving treatment for his depression.
His suicidal feelings have subsided and he is improving.
And he is in our thoughts and prayers, every day.
What Rajeev is feeling is also what many other tsunami survivors are feeling. But most do not talk about their suicidal feeling. The fact that Rajeev was actually able to communicate his suicidal feelings allowed him to receive the help that he needed.
Sadly, most of the tsunami survivors who are suicidal are not receiving the treatment that they need for their depression, and untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.
Depression affects each person in a different way. Some people get over their depression relatively quickly, and others may never fully recover; but every person who has depression needs to be treated. And the treatment needs to be tailored to what works for that person.
With a disaster of the magnitude of the Asian tsunami, it was inevitable that innumerable people would suffer from depression, and that many people would be suicidal.
Fortunately, programs have been enacted in the various countries affected by the tsunami to reach out to those people.
But this outreach to offer psychological treatment and support needs to be expanded.
And this outreach needs to continue on an indefinite basis, because
it is also inevitable that many tsunami survivors will have to cope with other
serious psychological problems in the future, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder.
And although the depression Rajeev experienced hit him immediately, for many other survivors, depression will manifest at some juncture in the future.
As we continue with the rebuilding phase of the tsunami disaster, we must keep our focus on the most important rebuilding aspect of the disaster: the rebuilding of the mental health of all of the tsunami survivors.
To all of the tsunami survivors: We love you. We pray for you. And we support you – now and forever. God bless you.
If you or someone you know is suicidal because of the tsunami (or for any reason)
please click below for immediate help:
Prevent Suicide Now.com