Fathers’ Day 2015: Remembering Sri

About a year ago on a spring afternoon while I was absorbed in my reading we received a telephone call. We had been inundated with telemarketing calls and our impulse was to ignore it. However something within my wife and me prompted us to pick-up of that phone.

At the other end was a desperate woman asking for me. She apologized for this intrusion but wanted my help badly. She had come across my article in the AFSP magazine on the untimely suicide of our daughter, Sri Viswanathan, in May 2003 and was moved by it. Above all she felt her life was not worth living and she wanted to end it by her own hands. She had been under psychiatric and psychological care for years and on medications. The most alarming thing she said that suicide ideation had occurred to her many times but she had reached a stage that spring that things had become unbearable.. She was desperate and her voice was heart rending. Her big concern was how her parents would take this shock and what it feels to lose a child. How did it affect us when our daughter died? Could her parents take it?

As I listened to her I kept repeating to her that her parents would be devastated and unable to live a normal life if she died and that the tragedy might even cut short their lives. Being a physician I quickly took her psychiatric history including the medications she was taking and what her doctors’ working diagnosis. It was almost a carbon copy of my own daughter’s. I told her she most likely had bi-polar disorder based on her symptom, and that she had to follow up with her therapists very soon. I begged her never to consider suicide and informed her that I am here at all times to talk to and for her to call. I gave her my phone numbers. We completed our talk with her in a much calmer and pacific state of mind and I could sense her determination to do something drastic to herself was much reduced. I made sure that I followed up with repeated calls to her and reassured myself of her condition.

Subsequent to our telephone talk I received a call from her mother who poured out her heart to me and thanked us profusely. Since then, going on a year or slightly more we have been in close touch. She has visited us several times and lunched with us and spent last year’s July 4th. with us for a barbeque. My wife and I have gone over to visit her and met her parents who are retired like us and most gentle and friendly. We are now one family. She has made us her god parents and for our part we have a daughter like the one we lost. I am a believer in God. I prayed to Him to forgive me and my wife if we had done anything that drove our daughter to suicide. I think He heard my prayer and sent me this child as His reassurance that we were not to blame.

Byravan Viswanathan has been involved with AFSP in his local area. You can read another piece her wrote here.


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