A young journalist talks to The Lede about her fight against sexual harassment, suicide attempt & living to tell the tale
This month, The Lede is focused on suicide prevention, a public health issue flagged off by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to commemorate World Mental Health Day that falls on October 10.
We spoke to a survivor of a suicide attempt – the causes and the catharsis afterward that has now given her a positive and bold new outlook on life.
“I was a 26-year-old reporter and I do not want my name to be revealed. I was working for a reputed media company shares and work pressure made me attempt suicide.
People in the media undergo lot of stress in terms of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and office politics.
I moved from my home to Mumbai to work. My job was almost entirely male dominated. I was the only female working in my team.
Initially everything was good, my fellow colleagues used to help me understand the work and we all used to be very friendly.
I used to cook food for them and we would eat in office. But eventually things changed. People started taking me for granted and started asking me for dinner dates.
When I refused, they stopped helping me and began putting unnecessary work pressure and pointed out mistakes in my work for no reason.
I complained about one colleague’s behaviour to my manager, about how he troubled me at work. He would not give me any work and would not allow me to help him when he needed the team.
He would tell everyone that I am inefficient at work and would point out every single mistake. He would not help me, nor would he allow others to help me when I had doubts.
On top of that he would wait for me to make mistakes and immediately point it out to the management. Also he used to talk about my character, my last relations and my breakup.
But my manager was influenced by my colleague and took his side. He started spreading negative comments about me and made fun of my personal life. Though there were a few colleagues who were sensible and sensitive enough to understand my problem, they were also helpless since they were unable to say no to our manager or to the one who was troubling me.
Every day I used to cry a lot after going to my room. I am an introvert, I don’t gel with people very easily. I don’t have any friends in Mumbai and my job was necessary for me because of my family situation.
My parents got separated a few years back and I couldn’t take the news that my father, whom I love the most, got married to someone else. I stopped talking to my parents and my friends were a very big support in handling these situations.
I got a job offer in Mumbai but when I came here I started facing sexual harassment and gender discrimination. I tried hard to take this issue to the higher officials but since I was new to the workplace they took advantage and showed that I was inefficient at work.
Even my higher officials thought that I was giving lame excuses to show my colleague in a negative light. I was left with no option so I put down my papers and started serving my notice period.
Even then things didn’t change. When they got to know that I am leaving this organisation they started to harass me more by not giving any work and prove to the management that their version was right and that I am inefficient at work.
I was mentally very much depressed and at that time I did not know what I was eating or wearing. Every day I used to cry a lot.
One day I had had enough. I decided to commit suicide. Before committing suicide I wrote a letter about what all has happened with me and was ready to hang myself but suddenly my stool broke and I didn’t have any other thing in my room to match that height. I was so sick that I was unconscious after that.
When I woke up, I realised that when I could win over this extreme situation of killing myself, why can’t I handle these people? I felt that nothing is more painful than killing yourself.
I stood for my rights, fought for myself. In a few days things changed, as the colleague who was troubling me was terminated for indulging in fraud in the company and my resignation was cancelled and I was taken back to work.
Now I think if I had committed suicide then because of frustration, I wouldn’t have seen the good now. I want to say that when you are in a bad situation we definitely feel bad but don’t take any hasty decisions like me.
I was lucky that I couldn’t commit suicide and now got to see the happy things.
Even now I see many of my female colleagues face many types of work pressures like humiliation from bosses and unnecessary grudges by their colleagues and managers. When you fight for your rights, they put you under too much pressure by bullying you, spreading negative gossips about you, showing that you are inefficient at work. Most times you don’t get help from your management at the right time.
But from my personal experience I would say don’t take any hasty decisions. Be patient and think about your family, friends. Nothing is more important than them. Things will set eventually."
(As told to Manasa Chennapragada)
Note: Suicide is not the answer to life's troubles. If you are feeling lonely, depressed or suicidal, help is at hand. Contact SNEHA's suicide helpline on 044-2464 0050