Pineapple !

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This is the second of our two-part blog series on Prashant Tiwari. RIP, kiddo.

20-year-old Prashant Tiwari was an aspiring hip-hop singer who suffered from depression. He killed himself while on suicide watch at a local hospital. His friends said his life will remain an inspiration for them. Supplied photo.

20-year-old Prashant Tiwari was an aspiring hip-hop singer who suffered from depression. He killed himself while on suicide watch at a local hospital. His friends say he will live in their hearts, always. Supplied photo.

If you were among the people that attended Prashant’s funeral, you probably witnessed an odd ritual.

Moments before his body was taken for cremation, the silent hall was punctuated with cries of “pineapple!”

The prickly tropical fruit, it so happens, was a buzzword for four young struggling musicians who wanted to communicate with the world and bring change through their lyrics and music.

Mayank Paul, 19, a member of Definition, a hip-hop group that Prashant belonged to, explained the chant.

A few years ago, Mayank Paul (MP), Shehzeb Iftakhar (Devious), Sukhman Dulay (Dulay) and Prashant Tiwari (PT), all members of Definition, were shooting the breeze and brainstorming about taking the world by storm, when PT, the ever pragmatic one among them, pointed out the obvious: their music was way too complex for the average human.

“He (Prashant) said we need to take all our lyrics and dumb them down,” Mayank recalled. “So, we were like, how do you dumb stuff down?”

“We need to say smart stuff stupidly,” Prashant quipped. “Yo, say anything on track, say, pineapple…”

And so “pineapple” became the mantra they used often when trying to connect with the quirky world that— at times — didn’t get them.

On a recent summer day, ten days after he was admitted to the local hospital, Prashant, hanged himself. He was under suicide watch. But, while he was in the hospital, his friends and family visited him daily.

“He couldn’t accept a lot of things and so, he wanted to change a lot of things,” Mayank said. “In one of the last conversations we had with him, he told us, we shouldn’t blame ourselves for the situation he had put himself in.”

During his short and troubled stint on this earth, all Prashant Tiwari ever wanted was, the world to validate his existence.

Definition members met by happenstance while in high school and connected. They all had one thing in common: an itch to transform the world, one hip-hop song at a time.

The quartet believed there was a growing feeling of alienation among teens today. School administrators couldn’t care less. Worse, no one in their immediate world, had the inclination or time to listen, coach or guide them.

Prashant was funny and wise. He was a jester and a philosopher. He understood the black and white shades of life, but could not handle the gray areas.

Not a day goes by when Gautam Tiwari, 17, (Prashant’s kid brother) doesn’t miss him.

“Depression doesn’t happen suddenly,” Gautam said. “It builds up. When kids leave high school, we are completely left in the dark. There’s a huge pressure to go to university. We have counsellors in school, I am not sure, if they are trained in mental health, they should be. Prashant was a driven person, but depression eats away at you slowly.”

School wasn’t Prashant’s thing. He wanted to be a rapper. Music was his salvation; his antidote to keeping the monster that was depression at bay.

“We were all pretty serious about making music that would make an impact,” Mayank said. “One of the things people should know about Prashant was that he wanted to discipline himself to the point nothing would faze him. He focused on his body and mind. Do you know any 19-year-olds interested in taking Sanskrit classes? Prashant wanted to learn the vedas and use them as references to guide his mind, body and spirit…”

“He always stood-up for what was right,” he continued. “Prashant had no problem saying anything that was in his mind. He was a very funny guy. He always did spontaneous things…”

There’s a huge expectation in our society to succeed, but what’s success? And who defines it?

Definition will be releasing an album soon that will include a track called No More that Prashant recorded a long time ago.

Prashant, you said it right. Ultimately, all existence comes down to the pineapple philosophy.

 

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Who killed Prashant Tiwari?

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  Prashant Tiwari, 20, seen here in this 2013 photograph taken at the airport in Paris. Prashant suffered from depression and was on a suicide watch when he committed suicide at Brampton Civic Hospital. The hospital has been reluctant to share details.


Prashant Tiwari, 20, seen here in this 2013 photograph, suffered from depression and was on suicide watch when he committed suicide at Brampton Civic Hospital. The hospital has been reluctant to share details.

That’s an easy one.

A gamut of systems— health, school and society—failed Prashant Tiwari.

Trapped in an abyss of darkness and hopelessness, Prashant probably felt he had no choice, but to finish the task he had set in motion a few days earlier when he grabbed a knife and stabbed himself repeatedly on the torso, neck and other parts of his body.

At that time, he could have harmed himself fatally; but instead he reached out in despair and asked his father for help. In the ER, Prashant clung on to a weak thread of hope and placed his trust— and life — on a team of professional all sworn on the Hippocratic oath.

On June 26, at approximately 2 a.m., the 20-year-old — who was supposedly on a suicide watch at Brampton Civic Hospital (BCH) — removed his clothes and fashioned a noose around his neck. He then climbed on to a chair and proceeded to hang himself from a vent in the washroom. His body was discovered three hours later.

A retired nurse that I spoke to recently expressed surprise at the circumstances surrounding Prashant’s death. Apparently, patients placed on suicide watch cannot wander into the washroom, unsupervised. How’s it that, she wondered, for three hours no one bothered to check on a high-risk patient who had few days earlier slashed himself and needed multiple stitches?

I’m certain, it must not have been easy for Prashant’s still-grieving family to revisit and share details of his life and death. Yet they did.

The raw grief on their faces as they talked about him was heartbreaking. Both Rakesh (dad) and Gautam (brother) talked candidly without sugarcoating the truth because they want Prashant’s story to be a lesson and a wake-up call for families nursing a relative with mental health issues.

“No child or a human being wants to die,” said a distraught Rakesh. “It’s only when you experience total hopelessness or have a mental illness where you have no control over your own actions that the idea of death and dying will come to your mind. Prashant was a disturbed child who reached out to authorities in his school, his guidance counsellor and in the last few days of his life to the healthcare professionals. No one helped him…”

Prashant, a child of divorce, for some odd reason blamed himself for the fracturing of his parents’ marriage. He carried guilt, truckloads of it.

Distraught father Rakesh Tiwari has been running from pillar to post seeking answers around the death of his son, Prashant. Prashant was on a suicide-watch at the Brampton Civic Hospital (BCH) when he took his life.

Distraught father Rakesh Tiwari has been running from pillar to post seeking answers around the death of his son, Prashant. Prashant was on a suicide-watch at the Brampton Civic Hospital (BCH) when he took his life.

As the drama of life unfolded in the Tiwari household with custody battles and divorce proceedings, a young bewildered child unwittingly became the collateral damage in the saga of life. He was four-years-old or even less when the world stopped making sense.

Following the divorce, Prashant went to live with his mother, but somehow a few years later, he ended up in the foster care system.

Try and imagine the confusion of a young innocent child trying to come to terms with abandonment and rejection. The effect of his turbulent childhood soon began to manifest.

Prashant was troubled and exhibited behavioural problems typical of a child that had seen more than its share of upheavals. Labeled a troublemaker, he was suspended numerous times for his difficult behavior and later for smoking pot.

In Grade 10, Prashant turned into a new leaf. He became a peer leader at school and was active in sports. The insidious demon that was depression surfaced every now and then, but the resilient young man fought bravely.

He told Rakesh that he had sought help from his guidance counsellor and his principal. He criticized the school for not doing enough to help students like himself exhibiting signs of mental health issues.

If we are looking for irony, how’s this? Prashant graduated from Mississauga Secondary School in 2012. A year before that, the school made headlines when a gruesome incident of murder-suicide involving a student occurred.

Akash Wadhwa, 16, jumped to his death (from the Hwy. 401 overpass near Mavis Road), after murdering fellow student, Kiranjit Nijjar.

Much like Prashant, Akash suffered from depression. As news of Akash’s and Kiranjit’s deaths rocked the school and the community, Prashant felt the school had let Akash down.

Prashant’s death has unearthed a can of crawling worms.

He was on a suicide watch, so why was he left unsupervised? What was a chair doing in the washroom? Why was the hospital initially reluctant to conduct an internal autopsy? And more importantly, why are the circumstances surrounding his death still cloaked in secrecy?

In my next blog entry, I will reveal details of Prashant’s life leading up to his death including chatting with his friends. Stay tuned.