Serial dramas aired on Pakistani television have gone a little too far in making grave attempts of suicide look very trivial. Instead, TV dramas depict such actions as an ultimate test and the purest expression of love.
Suicide is a public health issue recognized globally. The act of taking one’s own life is taken very seriously and opposed on every level worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Pakistan alone, 20 to 25 people of different age groups commit suicide every day, with the annual suicide rate crossing 13,000.
That being said, our national television shows seem to have taken an incredibly serious problem way too lightly by releasing shows in which characters seem so casual in wanting to finish their lives to either prove the passion of their love for someone, for seeking attention, or for using it as a strategy of pressurizing their family members to surrender to their requests.
Instead of calling attention to the disastrous consequences of suicide, or highlighting the impacts of avoiding someone’s mental health problems that might result in a person hurting themselves later and eventually taking their lives, these shows have misled suicidal threats in grievously outrageous ways.
One example of such a TV drama that has romanticized, glorified, and trivialized something as horrible as suicide is the recently aired serial “Mohabbat Tujhe Alvida.” The dialogues encircling the entire script were extremely offensive. Shahaan (played by Zahid Khan) decides to marry his boss Shafaq (played by Mansha Pasha) after she attempts to take her own life on Shahaan’s denial of marriage. Her grave act is portrayed as an act of pure passion, “Junoon,” eventually leading to their marriage. However, one suicide attempt wasn’t enough for the drama creators and thus they displayed another character as Shahaan’s wife, Ulfat (played by Sonya Hussain), who tries drowning herself in a water tub and consumes sleeping pills to win back her husband’s affection, which she eventually does.
The currently trending family drama “Aulad,” also known to be based on a script filled with heart-wrenching true emotions is, unfortunately, another example of a misinterpreting show where young adults are shown using suicide as their only weapon to make their adults surrender to their demands no matter how serious the demands are. Though the drama began with a constructive reminder of how parents endure the pain if their children alienate and disrespect them, the story has certainly taken a more objectionable turn and is heading towards a completely aberrant path. When Bilal (played by Nabeel Zuberi) tries severely hurting himself because his parents shun him after he claims to transfer their entire wealth to his love interest, the parents succumb to his pressure strategy and Bilal wins the debate. So what exemplary message is the show conveying?
Is suicide the only solution to hardships and the way out of miseries? In the drama “Log Kiya Kahengay,” Haseeb (played by Aijaz Aslam) is the father of two kids and the sole breadwinner of the entire household in times when his life has taken a turn towards financial instability. The character takes his life leaving his two kids and wife behind as he couldn’t find an alternative way to handle his bankruptcy.
When will scripts that are seen by thousands of people including kids and teenagers stop taking the severity of suicide lightly and disguising it as a glorious act? Not only this is a deplorable and worrying subject, the false and groundless idolization of deliberately harming one’s self on unrestricted television shows is having an opposite influence on the minds of the audiences.
If smoking on popular screens comes bundled with a disclaimer running at the bottom or side of the screen, why can not suicide come with a trigger warning?
Popular shows that run on television and are seen by thousands of eyes around the world hold the unbeatable power to raise mental health awareness and portray a romantic and healthy association and alternatively demonstrate broken lovers who show their sorrow healing from unshared love differently. This would be a much more facilitative way of projecting strong-willed characters narrowing the damage from their loss in progressive and productive ways. Even scripts that revolve around families can be written in a better manner whilst eliminating tropes like pressure strategies disagreements encircling a marriage issue or a fight for caste or household honor.
Suicidal attempts should not be portrayed as the only way out from tough dilemmas of life, especially when the same script and drama actions can help many counter grievous life issues faced in reality.