Suicide Prevention Project: 4

Life after Attempted Suicide

by Sarita Sidhu

“I don’t understand why anyone would want to commit suicide,” my husband said to me.

“That’s because you had an idyllic childhood in Kenya which gave you self-confidence and security and ambition. And joy,” I responded.

“It’s a selfish act,” he proclaimed.

“You don’t know what it’s like to feel that you’re not wanted, you’re not valued, you’re not loved, you don’t matter.”

I attempted to commit suicide twice in my late teens.

When the light of hope is absent in your dark world, when you have no dreams to elevate your spirit, you have no reason to think your life will ever change, death seems like the only way to end the pain of existence.

I grew up in an abusive authoritarian house with my three sisters. We were told ad infinitum that we could do as we pleased after our arranged marriages. But Mum looked neither happy nor liberated. 

My father did give us the choice to attend university before getting married. We lived in a social democracy that wouldn’t deny us a higher education simply because my working-class parents couldn’t afford to pay for it, so I took that opportunity. Education in India, my country of birth, was too expensive for most families, and was considered a waste of money on girls. 

I certainly had more freedom after marriage than before, but in my in-laws’ house my life was still not my own. I now had to answer to my mother-in-law. I still felt trapped and powerless and deeply unhappy. My life began to change slowly after she suggested I become a teacher and I enrolled in a program led by a strong female professor whose focus was on the education of girls in mathematics and technology. This centering of girls gave me the courage to ask myself what it was that I really wanted. This was easy; I had always wanted my own space in which I could exhale and escape judgement, and feel free. My marriage remained rocky even after I moved into my own house with my husband and daughter. It was only when we moved from England to America that my life changed dramatically for the better.

You already know your life will not be easy. But I want you to know that you are not who you have been told you are. You belong in this world as much as anyone else. Our lived realities are based on social constructs that have been designed to perpetuate the existing power structures, which are entirely manmade. Literally. The world is not created to work for all of us, and it is within this understanding that I have sought meaningful work. I put my energy and time into remaking the world so that it is more equitable. 

The world needs you. There is no one else like you. We understand the loneliness and pain of despair and hopelessness. In extending a hand to another, we are also lifted. 

Sarita Sidhu is a writer and activist in Southern California, who takes our collective work seriously, and understands the importance of laughter and fun. Instagram: saritaksid