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Malady of the nation?

Bhutanese people have no reason to commit suicide the Prime Minister said at the National Assembly last week. This observation from the head of the government about one of the most serious and rising issues facing modern Bhutan is not received well.

Bhutan, the people are told, was different from other countries because it was a blessed country with Gross National Happiness as its overarching development philosophy. There is no denying this fact, of course. But, surely, happiness does not push people off the cliff or leave them hanging from the ceilings feeling too small and overpowered in the face of challenges myriad that visit them painfully every moment of lives. While surveys show that happiness level of the Bhutanese citizens is increasing by the year, scourges like substance abuse and suicide have been rearing their ugly heads ever so frequently. How do we reconcile with these vastly divergent facts?

Sadly but, the real issue is losing focus. This, honourable citizens, is the point of reference – maybe we misunderstood our elected leaders or they find us hopelessly naive or gullible. Otherwise, we would not be ridiculing and underestimating ourselves at this level this way – this hour this day.

People believe they have reasons to end their lives if they find them not worth living. Education and health, our visionary forebears saw the worth of it and had the wisdom and courage to turn them true, are being provided free. Bhutanese do not need this reminded, because they will remain forever grateful that such are the fortunes that they have always enjoyed because of the farsightedness of their self-less monarchs. But that is not the argument. It is less our concern how many people put an end to their own lives in other countries. In a “blessed country” where happiness is cultivated tirelessly, a promising life down is one too many. Such comparisons are painfully irrelevant.

Most people in this country who choose to end their lives aren’t mentally unsound. Close to 80 percent of suicide cases was found to have no relation with mental sickness or issues. This is what the government commissioned report – A Study on Suicide Case in Bhutan 2014 – says. But, of course, we are let to know that the government has trust issues with their own findings.

It has been established that close to 60 percent of completed [suicide] cases involved those who earned less than Nu 3,000 a month. This explains why farmers are the least happy group in this society. There are reasons social, economic, and others playing their part individually and dangerously. To see how they affect the common people, we need only to look out of our ivory towers.

There is something unhealthy brewing in our society that is cutting the lives of our most promising and young. We can ill afford to play with numbers and trivialise the issue.

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One comment

  1. It’s usually our education and knowledge and applications of the same that keeps us involved and constructively occupied in the mind. Our observations and studies about what we sense about our surroundings is what keep us well invested in the mind with ideas. The questions that we get to search and the research we do in our mind to find solutions is what lead to intellectual involvement of human psychology. Otherwise, a human psychology is not going to be any different from what we call animal like behaviour or attitude. Interestingly though, I haven’t heard of any animals committing suicide. But predators in the animal world are known for their abilities to hunt or to kill.

    So many times, we come across people who look pathetically sad and depressed. But they are actually very self content and happy people from within. Same may be the case when one meets a happy looking person who is actually not happy and content from within. No one can understand that better than in a Buddhist nation like Bhutan that believes in practising happiness.

    When one mentions happiness alone, some of us actually know to cultivate happiness for the mind and even the body. On other occasions, we actually simply try to hunt for happiness making happiness our prey in that sense. And, one probably ends up killing the sad side to that. Of course, it’s just a personal opinion. One needs extensive research to understand that. But the point is… what these researches are actually about! Are they about what makes us happy or what makes us sad? If the ‘happiness’ itself is the solution as an end product to consume; what’s the point in understanding the negative sources for any causal studies.

    We probably need resources or a source that can supply the resources so that we can have the mind well involved and invested to cultivate happiness and then exercise to practice it. That’s what education is for and probably that’s what science is keeping the art to be executed as an act or action to follow. Somewhere, in my very personal opinion, education today is not supplying us the resources to cultivate happiness for the mind. We have become business minded with education; invest on it for returns expected somewhere else. So many times, happiness get lost in the process.

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