Friday, February 18, 2011

My name is Suresh Unni. My story of losing my brother, Santosh “Dosh” Unni, to suicide is going to be performed at the Falling Petals event sponsored by Erasing the Distance (ETD). It has been almost 15 years since my brother’s suicide and I have shared his story many times. However, hearing my story through the voice of another was an entirely different experience and one that was very cathartic. The therapeutic aspect of this experience was magnified because of the quality performance done by the actor, Anish Jethmalani, who assumed my identity for 10 minutes. Anish’s presence was so charismatic that one of my friends joked they wanted to make it a permanent trade which I thought was hilarious! Although the experience of losing my brother to suicide was tragic, I experienced a wide-range of emotions from sadness to laughter at the first ETD show and found it to be very meaningful.

Dosh was a very jovial spirit and his presence often put others at ease because of his aloof and nonchalant manner. Throughout most of his life he was a happy-go-lucky person that focused on laughing and having fun rather than arguing about insignificant topics like politics and religion. He always had many friends and was very popular with the ladies. Needless to say, he enjoyed being the life of the party. However, after high school was done and responsibilities mounted, he began to lose this spirit. Compounding this transition, he lost one of his closest friends who died in a car accident. I believe this is what triggered his depression. This initial trigger along with other events that followed is what eventually led to his final and ultimate decision of taking his own life.

Living through Dosh’s suicide has been very trying at times but I have also found increased meaning in my journey by meeting people who have become kindred souls on my life path. Some of these people are the one’s responsible for the extremely meaningful work ETD does. The people I have met through ETD have been very compassionate and resolute in helping others. The Falling Petals show is just an example of the various performances that aim to bring mental illness and other social ailments to light. I strongly encourage anyone that is interested in learning more about mental illness and/or anyone who has struggled with mental illness themselves to attend Falling Petals.

From Erasing the Distance's July 2010 newsletter. Suresh is pictured in the lower left.

Falling Petals will perform March 2, 3, and 4, and features the true stories of five Asian American Chicagoans who have been impacted by mental illness or disability.  Suresh's story will be performed by Anish Jethmalani. Join us for this surprising, inspiring, meaningful theatrical event. For more info or to reserve free tickets, click here. 

1 comment:

  1. Suresh, thanks for such a beautiful post. I am so glad to know you and feel repeatedly touched and grateful for your involvement with ETD.

    Best, Brighid