Suicidal bad grades? No problem!
Every year after the exams, there are at least couple of deaths reported of suicide committed by students because they failed or they couldn't score over 93% (yes, it happens).
Being fond of newspapers, I have read news like this from as long as I can remember. As a self-proclaimed smart kid (like every other kid), I immediately concluded that these people were weak and stupid and deserved to die.
As an average student, I could never empathize with high achievers or students who failed. It was beyond me why someone would sweat over low score even after getting highest marks in the class.
In Belfast, I was briefly part of an organization which helped suicidal people. I wasn't involved a lot but went to a couple of their seminars to learn about the thought process and how to handle tense situations. Luckily, I have never been in one. I, frankly, don't remember most of the training. However, my feelings towards people who are suicidal have changed over time.
I still think it's stupid to commit suicide, but reasons for the thought have changed.
I know now that depressed people are not stupid. They are certainly not weak. It takes a real commitment to studies or any cause to feel so strongly that it's easier to take your life than to fail at it. In fact, Harvard has 2x the national average for undergrad suicides. A coincidence? Not really.
I know that you can't just change somebody's mind by giving a set of clever arguments. It doesn't work in most situations, let alone suicide. For what it's worth, I am going to try anyway.
Why is suicide generally a bad idea? [I know you are special. Read it anyway]
People who are suicidal are focusing just on them. There is this feeling that what will everybody think, how would they feel and how worthless I am.
And that's what may happen. There is absolutely no denying that. However, it's important we keep following things in mind:
- Things are never as bad as we think they are: We greatly exaggerate, in our minds, the degree of pain and insult that a particular experience will give us.
- Stop exaggerating: We also overestimate how long will the pain last, which is forever. Time heals all wounds. That's just how the brain works.
- We have short memories: If you are worried about what others think, don't bother. The Truth is that everybody is focused on them. They have their own fears and insecurities to worry about. Nobody has time to devote their life to think about you; an exception being your parents if you are Indian.
- You don't want a number to decide your life: There's no way to be happy with the bad results you have not been expecting. However, it's important to understand that it's temporary and shall pass away. Your academic score at any one point does not define you or your life. At best, it's a performance metric by a flawed testing system.
- The Present always seems more powerful: It's understandable to feel depressed about low scores now as that's how students define their life. However, it's important to realize that in the larger scheme of things, your academic scores will play so little part that 20 years from now, if you still remember your scores, you would laugh at your naivety. It won't matter if you scored 70 or 90 in a Physics test, even if you are a Physics professor. In fact, you would tell stories about how successful you are even when you scored only 49% in secondary board exams (I do).
- Express gratitude: If you are thinking of suicide because of bad grades, you can immediately place yourself in the top 85% of world population. Other 15% are illiterate. If you are reading this on the internet, you are among the top 40% people in the world. Other 60% doesn't have internet access. If you are reading this on a laptop or a mobile phone... You see where I am getting. Be grateful. You have more things to thank for than you think.
If you failed the exam, that means you got the opportunity to sit in one. Consider that as a privilege. Even all students in the USA don't get to that stage because of one reason or other. Listen to Malcolm Gladwell's podcast episode on this.
- Your test score is not the only indicator of your future success (or failure): In fact, you don't need any college or even formal schooling as long as you find your talent and focus on right skills.
- Your life is shaped not by your conditions, but by your decisions: What matters are the decisions you take from here on. Make decisions actively instead of letting the world decide for you.
- Scores don't matter, learning does: What you study will always remain with you. Your worth, in the long run, would be defined by what you know and who you are, rather than your score.
- Stop being wasteful: Suicide is wasteful; Really! Stop thinking just about yourself for a minute. Think what does your death bring to the world - to your mother, father, siblings, and friends. Does it better someone else's life.
"But I just want to end the misery!", You say.
There are better ways to stop the suffering:
Bring joy in someone else's life. Help someone. When you stop thinking about yourself and how important/unimportant you are, your rise strong. If you would just help someone else, the joy it brings will make your life once again worth living and enjoying. I should point out that this is not just philosophy. Giving and being useful is a scientifically proven technique for depression and loneliness.
Just in case you still think you are better off being dead, please watch Seven Pounds. Be useful.
If you are still reading, you may like James Altucher's blog.
What do you think? Please mention in the comments.
Please share with someone who is suffering from bad grades or someone who need to read this. You will do them and me a favor.