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A teenager’s tale of surviving comparison with his elder brother

Growing up with an elder sibling who is a rank-holder in school has its pitfalls. As a young boy, Rishabh was subjected to comparison from his teachers and students. Every time Rishabh would score good marks, the teachers would often give credit to his elder brother for inspiring him. On the other hand, at home, his parents would often criticise him for not being as good as his elder brother.

The pressure to be as good as his brother doubled when the board exams were around the corner. Every time Rishabh would sit to study, his attention would drift to the gold medal his brother received when he topped in 12th board. In a fraction of a second, he would lose some part of his self-confidence. Some part of his self-esteem slipped a notch.

On the outside, Rishabh would project an image that everything is alright, from the inside he was sinking. His heart sank even lower when relatives would pop up in the house and would automatically start praising his elder brother for his achievements, completely side-lining Rishabh for his efforts.

Soon, with trembling confidence and the pressure to out-perform his own brother, he appeared for the grade 12 board exams. After every exam, he would build a façade of cheerfulness but deep inside he knew that he might not get as many marks as his brother.

He started to self-blame. He started to criticize himself. He started to internalise the belief that he is not good enough. This ruminative thought pattern stuck with him for months till the exam results did not come out. But once they did, and he did not score as much as his brother, he felt his self-esteem going down the drain.

Soon, he lost all hope and started contemplating suicide. Believing that ending his life will be the solution to his problems seemed the perfect idea to his fear-ridden mind. He would wake up every morning with suicidal thoughts. His brother happened to visit home during this phase and realised that things are not right with Rishabh. He started talking to him and understood his depressed state of mind. Furthermore, he understood that Rishabh needs professional counselling.

Tips on how to combat suicidal thoughts:

1. It is important to focus on what you’re good at and start working towards those goals.

2. Most importantly, while working hard, make sure, you’re persistent and stay positive.

3. This is easier said than done, but if you believe in yourself, then one day the world will come to believe in your potential as well.

4. The power of positive thinking is one of the best ways to combat suicidal thinking.