It was supposed to be yet another weekend of socializing. I was on my way to the salon for a quick blow-dry and manicure, after which I had to meet up with some friends who were in town. You see, we were all supposed to attend an awards ceremony that night.

As I was aimlessly scrolling through my Facebook timeline, I came across a status “My dear friend Anam Naveed Tanoli has left the world for a better place”. The name sounded familiar. A quick search showed that she was a 26-year-old rising model who had returned from Italy just a few months ago. As the day progressed and more information came in, it was revealed that the cause of her death was suicide - most likely due to struggling with poor mental health issues.

While my mind was slowly processing this, I was taken back to earlier this year when news of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain committing suicide had come out and left the world horrified. I was on a vacation in Bangkok at that time and had just watched an episode of Anthony in Thailand a few days earlier to find places that I must visit.

“I feel like Quasimodo the hunchback of Notre Dame — if he stayed in nice hotel suites with high-thread-count sheets that would be me. I feel kind of like a freak, and I feel very isolated,” is how Anthony Bourdain once described what he actually feels like despite being one of the biggest global stars of the culinary world.

Soon after, popular musician Demi Lovato suffered a heroin overdose that nearly claimed her life. She is currently in rehab and fully committed to recover, to prevent this incident from repeating itself.

Suicide is a topic that continues being taboo not only in Pakistan but across the world, despite the fact that it is rapidly turning into one of the leading causes of premature death. In most cases, mental illnesses such as depression play a major role but people are still hesitant in reaching out for help, possibly because they fear being judged or looked down upon. However, with effective treatment and support from loved ones, recovery is possible and one can go on to live a healthy and productive life.

There are no specific symptoms of people with suicidal tendencies, but the most common signs include family history of mental health problems/suicidal behavior, substance abuse, mood disorders, history of trauma or abuse, personal tragedies or even exposure to suicidal behavior of others.

"And if I could tell anybody that's thinking about taking their own life, is to reach out to people. Don't hold it inside, don't isolate. Reach out to people, whether it's close friends, family. If you feel like you don't have anybody, look within yourself and try to find that resilience that will ultimately get you through whatever it is you're going through. Every single person on this planet is worth life." – Demi Lovato.

If someone close to you shows indications of considering suicide, please listen and take their concerns seriously. We all need to do our best to help each other through our darkest moments because ending one’s own life is never, ever the answer.

If you need help for yourself or someone else, contact the Aman Telehealth helpline on 9123 to speak with a counsellor. This is a free-of-cost service for people across Pakistan.