Even at a time when bad news is hitting us with unfortunate regularity, the death of young actor Sushant Singh Rajput has come as a shock reverberating through society. Early reports as also the statement of Mumbai Police suggest that Sushant committed suicide at his Bandra residence. As is the human instinct in such cases, the various recent words he left behind in the public space are getting intense scrutiny. For example, in an Instagram post last week he had shared a collage of photos of himself and his late mother with the text, “Blurred past evaporating from teardrops. Unending dreams carving an arc of smile. And a fleeting life, negotiating between the two.” Now those words feel deeply poignant and ring of augury. From ‘Kai Po Che’ to ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’ the young actor had several accomplished performances under his belt. So part of the mourning today is for a talent extinguished too soon. But it’s obviously also about how the global pandemic has disrupted lives and created a pervasive uncertainty.
Families have been torn apart by lockdowns, we have become physically distanced from our loved ones in ways we never imagined possible, the passing of loved ones now has to be survived without the usual rituals of comfort, careers have been upended, financial security has been lost, what was everyday life has been reduced to memory, and on top of everything else there is guilt that one’s worries are trivial compared to what many others are going through – even as one cannot stop feeling overwhelmed by these worries and fears. It is indeed a moment of great mental health challenges. The death of the young actor has spotlighted the need for taking these challenges seriously as a society, especially in these fraught times. Only then can we heed them and try to heal them.