Stories about suicide

‘Go set yourself on fire’: Abdul Basit is but one of many students under crippling pressure

His name was Abdul Basit and he just wanted to pass his exams. A student of Hamdard University (HU), Basit had been struggling for years according to the principal, Dr Furqan. As his mother tells it, he arrived late for his Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) exams, because his vehicle had broken down – a frustrating situation any one of us can identify with. When he finally arrived, the exam, scheduled for 11 am to 1 pm had already ended. Here, Basit begged every official to allow him to take his test, as it was his final year. Dr Furqan told him ...

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When will the internet stop body-shaming people?

I recently saw the movie The Dressmaker. It’s set in 1950s Australia where a woman comes back to her hometown to exact some revenge. She’s a dressmaker and just so extremely talented, that she decides to use her talent to get back at those who may have wronged her when she was a young girl. The title role called for someone dynamic and breathtakingly beautiful. Befittingly (no pun intended), the producers chose Kate Winslet, the 40-year-old, Oscar, Golden Globe and Bafta winning actress. Watching Winslet’s astounding figure fill up the screen, dressed in Dior and Channel, romancing onscreen with Chris ...

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She lost herself in the wor(l)d of Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway died by scratching an itch on the back of his head with the bullet of a shotgun that left a hole in his cranium. That always intrigued her in some odd way. “It takes courage,” she would say, “to do something that irrational.” “It’s cowardice,” I’d say and she’d give me a look that showed that she respected what I’d said, but was sure that I was wrong. We were too young at the time to understand anything Hemingway had to offer. His voyage through life was sort of mystical to her, but to me he was just another ...

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“Could I have done more?” – A psychiatrist’s struggle with patient suicide

It’s a story I feel compelled to tell. It may be therapeutic for me and possibly for others as well. It’s a story that needs to be told. But I hesitate. I fear the stigma. I am afraid of being judged. I fear breaking the silence. I ruminate about the potential repercussions. What if I, a psychiatrist, wrote about my own emotional conundrum after a patient chose to end his life? Can I open the private vault of personal grief that filled me with his untimely and unnatural departure? I want to narrate the tumultuous aftermath of patient suicide, the distressing combination of ...

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Sexually abusing children in the name of sex education

Very often we find a wolf in sheep’s clothing; it can be a doctor who gives you the wrong diagnosis or treatment to con you out of money or it can be a preacher who radicalises innocent youth seeking spiritual education. All of us are always at the mercy of someone whose occupation puts them in a position where we are likely to trust them. Recently, a 50-year-old tutor in Lahore was arrested for sexually assaulting his pupils, and videotaping the crimes. He confessed to victimising over 20 children over the past six years while working at several academies in Lahore. He said he ...

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To Fakhra Yunus and Noman – With love, from Tehmina Durrani

Strange are the ways of God, Strange is the help He provides, I love you to the moon and beyond, There aren’t many places to hide!   The sky above heads be a witness, When helpless were helped by a helpless, The amount of effort that it took me, How shall I put in words? I feel restless!   The shadow over Napier road, Karachi, Of a once-scarred moon needing justice, Will bring back the grace and enlighten, This painful dichotomy of success!   This too shall pass and so quickly I recall, I took you to Italy, Five years young and your mother, Recovering from hell and so swiftly.   In 12 years with 39 surgeries, A breadwinner with burnt-flesh hungry, By lack of equality in our system, Then gave ...

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Why is the shipment of bio-hazardous anthrax being overlooked, United States?

While we were still in the process of recovering from the dumbfounding FIFA fiasco and the horrendous IRS hacking, the odiously toxic news of live samples of anthrax being  shipped ‘mistakenly’ by the Department of Defence (DoD) to different parts of the country and South Korea further contaminated the airwaves. While one cannot stay away from crying bloody murder when such an incident, a rather unforgiving event, occurs, bringing back awful memories of Union Carbide and Chernobyl, Pentagon officials assured people that nothing earth-shaking took place and there were no reports of exposure to the deadly bacteria. “There is no known risk to the general public, and there are no ...

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Pakistanis should no longer live in fear of other Pakistanis!

Imagine having to wake up every day and being afraid of going to school. Afraid that other students will harass and torment you because of your – perceived or actual – sexual orientation, gender expression, ethnicity, disability, or just because. That is the reality that many Pakistani students face every day. Kids in schools today are harassed because of perceptions related to their sexual orientation and are bullied because of their gender expression. The world community, including the media, general public, opinion leaders and policy makers will commemorate International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia this year on May 17th; but who in ...

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Five things teachers should never say in a classroom

At school, I was the student that was every teacher’s worst nightmare. I questioned everything, I disobeyed flagrantly, I mimicked and ridiculed my peers but I managed to always do well in tests. My school faced a terrible dilemma while registering me for my GCE O Levels; my disciplinary record warranted a suspension from school but they knew I would secure the grades that would enhance the school’s reputation. In the end they let me register through the school, and I repaid them for the confidence they had in me. Ever since I left school, I have trained many teachers and worked extensively ...

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Falling for glittery dreams

His mother was his fulcrum. The centre point upon which his whole life balanced, precariously. His mother had never had an easy day in her life. Ravaged by poverty from a young age, she was bestowed in marriage to a man who was 20 years her senior.  Her main purpose in life was to be an avenue for procreation and to remain devoutly obedient to her husband; that was the way life was lived in these regions. If she had no choice in who she married, she could mould her children in any manner she pleased. Instead of being harsh on them, she chose to ...

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