Monday, June 22, 2020

Ways to support someone with Suicidal Thoughts

CONTENT WARNING: The following write up mentions suicide and self-harm.

Suicide prevention: WAIT | Mental Health Foundation

Along with a plethora of peripheral issues that the coronavirus pandemic has spilled on the world, one is the mental health crisis. In conventional societies like India that do not have either enough mental health care systems and largely see "suicide" from a moral or religious lens, suicide prevention remains a huge grey area.

In this scenario the role of peer intervention and friends and family offering initial psychological first aid is crucial. So here are a few pointers as to how to intervene when a near one indicates "self-harm" or "suicidal" ideation.

You are not alone - GREAT BEND TRIBUNE

1. Be an Active Listener
Don't offer quick fixes. Often a person in such extreme stress wants just to be heard and their pain acknowledged. A listener can mitigate a lot of such extreme situations by being attentive.

2. Trust their feelings and take them seriously
When someone confides such feelings in you, do not dismiss these as empty threats and label them as "emotional drama". Take these disclosures seriously and seek help and support to help them.

3. Don't panic, stay calm.
Someone already in distress can be further triggered if someone they confided in acts anxious or shaken. If you cannot handle these feelings seek further emergency or professional help and stay by them till that arrives.

4. Ask the person, what they need
Sometimes they would just want some company or want you to get them professional help, or want to speak to their family/friends for them. This also shows your keen interest in their wellbeing and might also offer a pause to their suicidal thoughts.

5. Find Support for yourself
Being a caregiver here is stressful so find a friend or therapist to talk about what comes up for you, so you don’t get burnt-out and your care comes from a place of self-care as well as care for the other person.

This post is a part of Blogchatter #CauseAChatter Campaign.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

HEROES OF KINDNESS - Book Review and Interview

Cover courtesy: Author/Blogchatter

As the name suggests Roshan Radhakrishnan's HEROES OF KINDNESS is a book about Kindness. In the middle of a global pandemic, it is the kind of book that one would like to read for hope in humanity and the future.

I have been introduced to this series he has done for years on his blog now, the conversion into a book is only a next and welcome change to offer 50 curated stories from the blog that have personally influenced the author as well as made him receive widespread reactions from across the world.

The book has a well-worded foreword and an origin story that describes the process of these stories and the book and how they came to be.

The bright Fuschia cover spells happiness and joy and the 59 pages make it an easy/light read. The language of the book is a clear window into the writing skills of an acclaimed blogger and thus makes an instant connection with the reader.

The author says:

"What do I hope you gain from this book? An altered perspective. A belief that The World is Not a Bad Place. In this book, I am showcasing 50 acts of kindness and compassion from across the world. There are thousands of heroes like these all around you. I need you to remember that whenever you feel low."

The book lives up to this claim sufficiently.

The stories cover a wide range from gender identity issues to disability to fatal diseases and social stigma.

A book like this in these times is a harbinger of hope and goodness, and I found it only befitting to dig deeper and find more insights about it via the author himself.

Roshan kindly agreed for an email interview and added to my love for this book as a reviewer and reader immensely with his candid and honest responses.

HERE IS A BRIEF email INTERVIEW with the author

Pic courtesy: Roshan

1. What is your definition of kindness?

Kindness used to be just about being generous. Today, from where I see it, it is an act of strength. It is so much easier to ignore those suffering around you and go with the masses, leaving the weak to fend for themselves. It takes true strength to go against the grain and make a positive difference today. 

2. How is your profession as a doctor contributed to this quest of finding kindness and documenting it?

In some ways, it has actually made it harder! Time restraints and work pressure often tend to get in the way of my hunt for finding heroes as well as seeking them out and interviewing them. On the flip side, my profession is one where you do see pain and suffering every day. You see the darkness. The need to find light under such circumstances can find many outlets. For me, seeking good people seemed logical. 

3. What were one/some life-changing experiences while compiling these stories over the years?

I remember the first time I wrote about kindness. It was a huge photo montage of sorts, 50 images of kindness in a single article. I was previewing it and by the time the last image appeared, I had tears in my eyes. That is neither an exaggeration nor is it common for someone like me who is used to the sight of pain, blood, and broken bones. This was years before I wrote Heroes of Kindness but it struck me that night how powerful an avalanche of kindness can be.

For me, there have been quite a few. There was a 12 year old boy who used to prepare bags of food and then go distribute it to the homeless in Cambridge. I had the pleasure of interviewing him. I remember shortly after that article was published, former students of mine did the same here in India. The magic of that - a child in America inspiring grown-up doctors in India in India to be kind.

This is something that I've pointed out in my book's "Origin Story" chapter - because I seek out and befriend these heroes in real life, my timeline on social media (barring the war zone called Twitter!) is always filled with positivity. Their kindness extends to every aspect of their life, as I always knew it would. 

4. Which are your 3 most favorite stories and why? Tell briefly.

One would have to be Heather's story. The 25-year-old was dying from Stage 4 liver cancer. A random stranger read her story, got himself tested, and ended up being a match. He gave her his liver. Somewhere along the way, I guess he slipped her his heart too. They are happily married today & their story is an actual Hallmark movie. I was happy to be a part of it, helping her surprise him by interviewing her and then pleading with bloggers to comment. By the time her husband saw it (as part of their six-month anniversary present), there were nearly 100 comments of love for him from India! 

Another one would be the two college students who felt they looked like the Princesses from the animated movie Frozen while watching the movie. They used their resemblance to dress up as the Princesses and visit pediatric hospitals to cheer up children. Sounds cute, right? Well, it inspired a whole generation of students. Today, they are a foundation called A Moment of Magic that has visited over 10,000 children across America. Imagine that.

Chef Bruno Serato's story is special for a personal reason too. Working in a high-class restaurant, the man who came from an impoverished background would give away over a million free meals to impoverished children. When tragedy struck and his restaurant burned down, the news captured him crying as he watched it burn... his main worry was how would he feed the children! The community responded with donations pouring in and even competing restaurants offering their workplace and staff for him to continue cooking for the kids.
It took over a year but the White House of Anaheim restaurant has reopened again. This story is personal for me because I received an honorary award in journalism following an international competition for my take on this story.

5. In the ongoing pandemic, we have seen a lot of apathy too, what is your message to people via your ebook?

It is the very theme of this book. To get rid of the suffering, negativity, and apathy all around you. Choose to be kind. The people you read about in this book are not famous celebrities (though they should be!) They are normal people - nurses, coffee-shop waitresses, teachers, doctors, nurses, students. Do you get it? They are you. You don't need to seek out Heroes of Kindness. You can become a Hero of Kindness yourself during these difficult times. A simple act that stems from empathy. That is all that is needed.

Roshan can be reached out here on Facebook 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

BOLLY TALKIES: Book review

Book Cover: Author's Copyright

“India has two religions- Bollywood and Cricket”

Archana Srivastav’s BOLLY TALKIES has recently been released in the #BlogchatterEbookCarnival by Blogchatter with other 62 amazing books. Non-fiction and especially Bollywood has been a popular genre in India of late, the audience/readers always look forward to knowing more about film, characters and the people who play these characters in these films.

Bollywood is definitely a magical realm where everything becomes larger than life as if by some magic. , even life itself! The out of this world heroines, the superhero-like heroes, the legendary villains all have played a role in establishing Bollywood as the “Baap” of entertainment in India. Though sometimes it does perpetuate stereotypes, and on other occasions, it dares to break them as well.

Archana is an MBA Graduate, Former HR Professional, Former Management Faculty, she thoroughly enjoyed her working career till 2015, after which she took a break from working, but her love and enthusiasm for Hindi films is evident in each chapter of the book.

Archana says in the blurb –
“The book is an assortment of a list of famous Bollywood movies. There are twenty-six chapters in this book, the names will either be of a character from the movie, the movie, or a collection of similar characters.”

While some chapters are dedicated to one character in one film several others have references to more than one like the one about friendships in films. The highlight of each chapter is not the brief synopsis of the plot or the character but the second half where the author speaks about the lessons learned from the film, the takeaways, and the eye-opener points. These reflect on a variety of themes from life lessons to parenting, about character building, relationship advice, and more, making the format innovative and engaging for the reader.

The language is easy and every day with a solid peppering of Hinglish and quotes from Bollywood. Some chapters like “XTRA Dose Of Laughter” and “Second Inning Of YESTER YEAR'S Actors” are a surprise as they compile the punch of a lot of legendary characters/actors and films into one.

The author walks us through films and characters that, in her opinion, have been game-changers in some way. The reader might have different opinions about these and might not consider these as the best films or characters but they made an impact and changed mainstream cinema in some manner. They influenced viewers, perceptions about common beliefs but also how filmmakers and film-making practices have evolved.

This book provides an insightful tour of the glamour and variety of Indian cinema along with profiles of characters, insights into subjects, some lesser-known facts, and how each of these became path-breaking.

The book is for all Bollywood enthusiasts and even those who want a peek into what makes Bollywood such a dominant sub-text in who we are as a society and a country. It is a light-read suitable for all age-groups above pre-teens and gives enough food for thought about films as a change-making art form.

The author can be reached at

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