From an article in The Journal News titled Immigrant’s life in ‘wonderland’ turns tragic (by Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy):
At 2:30 p.m. April 3, 27-year-old Ganesh Santhanakrishnan of Ossining drove a rental car to the middle of the Tappan Zee Bridge, activated the hazard lights, calmly walked up to the railing and plunged to his death in the Hudson River.
It was the end of a journey to America that was full of promise.
Armed with a freshly minted engineering degree from a prestigious college in India, Santhanakrishnan arrived at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 2002 to pursue graduate degrees in computer science.
“To my son, America was a wonderland, a dreamland, where scholars are rewarded for their work, and he wanted to fulfill his ambition to receive a doctorate and make a career for himself,” his inconsolable mother, Radha Santhanakrishnan, cried over the phone from Chennai, India. “But none of that came true for him.”
The sad part of the whole thing was that he was admitted to a mental health unit and then released. His family too knew that he was struggling but they couldn’t help him.
“We tried to convince him to go back to India, but he didn’t want to hear it,” said his cousin, 35-year-old Balaraman Venkataraman of East Brunswick, N.J. “He was afraid that, if he went back, he may not be able to come back again. My mother offered him money, which he didn’t accept. He was determined to find a job here and become successful.”
Though Venkataraman acknowledged his cousin seemed depressed, he said he wasn’t alarmed.
Did he ask him to see a doctor?
“No. How can you ask a normal person to do that? He was a state rank holder in school,” Venkataraman said. “He was having a hard time with his job search, and we thought he would feel better when he found one.” (emphasis mine)
It’s a telling quote and probably underlines the attitude that a lot of people in India have about mental health.
Maybe Santhanakrishnan would not have been saved in spite of seeing a mental health professional, but there’s no doubt that his chances of surviving would’ve increased greatly.
When people start seeing mental health as a health issue like diabetes or high blood pressure, then people will get the help they need. If not, we’ll see tragedies like these happening over and over.
That would be the greatest tragedy of all.