It is 11:20AM at work and I have a thousand things to do, but I’ll do this first.
At the age of 17, I needed to escape a planned marriage, severe physical and verbal abuse, psychological damage and other such fun experiences. My only two solutions at the time were either this “Sumithrayo” helpline that I’d found out about or..well…er… the sharp kiss of a razor blade.
Dramatic, no? Too much info? Too emo? No chill?
If you agree, you’re fit to work at Sumithrayo.
Sri Lanka’s main attraction is probably the tens of thousands of people throwing themselves off great heights- just ask the beach boys in Galle who do it for entertainment. The Sumithrayo probably work as a sort of sponsor to ensure our suicide stats still stay at a nice, high level.
Look at their logo, dude. Death lovingly embraces individual on the brink of suicide? Could’ve convinced me.
Back when I called them, they essentially consisted of a group of aunties – undisputed kings of ඕපාදූප. I’m not sure what sort of helpful, understanding folks work here now but I certainly hope it’s a step-up from how it used to be: ESPECIALLY with more than half of Colombo’s ignorant fools giving them more and more publicity because it’s ‘the right thing to do.’
‘But why are you so salty? What have you done so far? Have you done your part in raising awareness?’
I’m doing my part right now. I want everyone reading this to understand that this whole thing is a farce. You BET I’m salty. I’m annoyed as FUCK.
Suicide counselling isn’t some light, easy, walk in the park. People who are on the edge of offing themselves with a gun or a hundred pills or whatever aren’t looking to have a friendly conversation. In fact, the sole reason why they choose to call a suicide helpline is because they’ve exhausted all other options i.e. friends.
Do I have a right to be mad at them? Well I’m guessing being mad is better than being dead, no?
The Sumithrayo Website
Not only is their website outdated and full of contradictory points it is also reminiscent of a CIRP student’s first term paper on ‘An Understanding of the Complex Mechanisms of Suicide.’ Hilarious.
According to the Sumithrayo, ‘listening and BEFRIENDING’ is going to help diffuse suicidal thoughts and behaviour. Yeesh.
Please just PROPERLY read through this particular page, and tell me I’m crazy. Tell me I’m overreacting and that I’m just complaining for the sake of complaining. I would like NOTHING MORE than to advocate for the Sumithrayo- I called them a few years ago asking to volunteer and who responds? An aunty. Told me they only accept volunteers sometime late August. I’ve had three unforgettable conversations with these guys and this is the lighter, less ridiculous one.
Me: ‘Hi I was wondering if I could volunteer? I heard you were recruiting.’
Aunty: ‘That is later in August. Call then.’
Me: ‘Okay, is there a training session I should go through?’
Aunty: ‘CoMe To ThE oFfIcE aNd TaLk.’
She hung up right after that last sentence. Classy.
Dealing with suicidal people is a TASK. There’s no sugar-coating that. But once you decide to take on the role of a help-line volunteer, you’re essentially signing your life away to help other people in need. You cannot allow your frustration to get in the way. Your emotions don’t matter here. They stop mattering the minute you make the decision to help.
Deliver Us, Devdas
I am utterly bewildered by how many people blindly advocate for this group like sheep. Posting on social media, directing mentally exhausted people in need of professional help to some disregardful, negligent organisation that garnered a following because unfortunately it is the only one of its kind here. But enough complaining, let me tell you what happened.
Being 17 is an inconvenience in itself when you have nowhere to direct all your raging hormones. You try to act up, but you can’t, especially if your dad is the head of a popular mosque and your parents’ only goal is to find you a suitable 38 year old to have sex and produce children with. Throw in a hefty scoop of mixed abuse and you’ll find yourself standing by the mirror for hours on end because you’re too brain dead to have any sort of logical thought anymore. That’s pretty much the short version of what happened.
My first ‘Sumithraya’ was first some dude who probably got his idea of depression and suicide from Hindi movies. How do I know this? He used Shah Rukh Khan as an analogy to help me try and understand my life better.
‘Shah Rukh Khan is a big celebrity. He goes through things every day! But that doesn’t stop him from being a worldwide superstar, no? Do you understand?’
I shit you not, I had to listen to these words with a sinking feeling because I KNEW this was a lost cause. No point even elaborating further.
My second experience, I had another aunty. Oh how I despise women like this. Women in their late forties to mid sixties who make it their life goals to judge and berate. I could just hear the short hair, sloppily applied lipstick, gaudy jewellery and drawn on eyebrows. Delightful.
This was short because I hung up. I assumed it would be better and that she’d be more understanding since we were both women. JOKE. She told me that I had to pray to god and that he’ll alleviate all my troubles if I just believed in the lord. I wasn’t supposed to go against my parents’ wishes because I was young and they knew best.
‘The lord will help no, dear?’ Sure lady, he helped me out by making me listen to your bullshit so I guess that proves a lot.
What else to do?
Nothing. That’s the sad part here. People will continue to blindly advocate and promote organisations like this because there’s literally nothing else to do. Hopefully this whole ‘suicide’ issue gets taken seriously enough for professionals to step in and ensure that each and every case is given high priority. Or provide basic training on how to handle a damaged individual.
Until then, I’ll just sit here whining, and you can sit there posting.