My name is Raashi Thakran. I am a 21 year old mental health advocate from Pune. I have just completed my engineering in information technology and have decided to take a year off for myself. I am a Change.org fellow and I am also currently interning with Teach for India as part of their City Human Resources and Operations Team. I am planning to pursue Psychology for my masters next year.

I wasn’t always an activist, this is a very recent development.

This year, on 6th January I lost my brother to suicide.

He was only 18 years old.

It was very sudden, shocking and happened when we least expected it.

Just 6 days prior to this, on New Year’s Eve he was dancing right next to me and if you see that video you wouldn’t believe it’s the same person who decided to end his life a few days later.

The point is, you never truly know who might be struggling which makes it even more important for us to acknowledge and speak openly about mental health and suicide.

This is why I have started a petition on change.org asking the government to launch a national helpline number for suicide prevention in India because we don’t have a centralised number as of yet. There are a lot of numbers on the internet but most of them are not working, are either switched off or aren’t very helpful.

My petition has received more than 1.8 lakh signatures till date which means people understand the gravity of the situation and are taking a stand.

With this, I want our government to address this issue on a national platform. And we’ve got a positive response from them as well. Niti Aayog wants to work with us on a centralised suicide prevention hotline and we’re seeing how we can take this forward.

I have been invited to various events to speak about my petition and my journey. You can also connect with me through my social media accounts which I use diligently to raise awareness about mental health.

My message for the readers is something that my brother wrote –

“With death as far as the cliff, I run away from it and towards the horrifying sight.
For I’m ready to endure the agony that comes with fighting the strongest demons.
I’m not strong or fearless.
But I’m ready to fight for as long as it takes to win.
I’m ready to be the master of my enemies again.”

I get it, life is not easy. Some days, it can take everything in you to even get out of bed and that’s okay. Celebrate the smallest of achievements and take one day at a time. There are people out here who care, you are not alone. You just have to reach out.

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