Sushant Singh Rajput, former TV start, lovingly known as “Manav” from Pavitra Rishta and one of the brightest stars of the Hindi film industry is no longer between us. The actor, who had given a host of brilliant performances, was especially known for recreating MS Dhoni with an excruciating perfection on the silver screen. Even as the tributes keep pouring in for the actor par excellence, family members, fans and film fraternity members are still in a grave shock with the news of suicide. The 34-year-old
died by Suicide in his Bandra residence yesterday (15 June) where he was reportedly living alone during the lockdown. As per several media reports and celebrity statements doing rounds, Sushant was struggling with depression which is said to be the reason behind this extreme step.
People knew something was wrong with him…
The actor had made a fairytale transition from being a small-town boy to the TV industry and then finally made it big in Bollywood as well. Even as the whole Hindi film industry mourns the death of one their own, a lot of celebrities have shared in their tributes that they knew something was amiss with the actor including film director-producer Karan Johar, hairstylist Sapna Bhavani Film, producer Mukesh Bhatt to even TV star Arjun Bijlani. It is not only who knew Sushant up close or interacted with him on a daily basis, but one careful look at his
Instagram feed can also shed light on his state of mind. His last IG post, dedicated to his mother who passed away when he was only a teenager, is a silent abyss of darkness in itself.
The question that still looms large is that even when a lot of people somewhere felt that Sushant was not doing alright and that he was posting about “fleeting life and negotiating between the two”, why was he left all alone during the lockdown to cope with the devils inside his head? Why didn’t even a single person persistently reached out to him, when he was struggling with suicidal thoughts? The truth is, Sushant wasn’t alone in dealing with this omnipresent devil as 300 million people are struggling with depression globally. According to the National Mental Health survey, one in 20 Indians suffers from depression and India has the highest suicide rate in South East Asia. Infact, as per recent data by the World Health Organization, India is the most depressed country in the world.
Death by suicide: Log kya kahenegy is literally killing us
For the uninitiated, suicide is the second leading cause of death globally among 15-29 years old and 1 person dies every 40 seconds from suicide. Infact, as per WHO every year close to 8,00, 000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. These are hard, cold facts and painful examples of how much work we need to do a society for suicide prevention. Our biggest failure as a society is the hush-hush tone in which we talk about mental health conditions including depression.
In layman terms going to a psychologist, psychiatrist or any mental health expert is still considered a taboo as people go as far and beyond as calling them ‘paagal.’ As if those living with tormenting mental health conditions are not already going through enough that now they have to plaster on a happy face in the public, cause you know ‘log kya kahengey? We refuse to allocate similar importance to mental health conditions and then follow up with our lengthy, ‘Rest in peace’ posts on social media handles when we did not give two hoots about a person’s mental wellbeing and ‘peace’ when he was very much alive.
We spoke to Charvi Jain, Counselling Psychologist and Psychotherapist and the founder of Over a Cup of Tea, a psychological wellness Centre, to help us identify when someone is feeling suicidal, she said, “While there are no definitive signs, people who have suicide ideations usually have the presence of the cognitive triad – feelings of worthlessness, helplessness and hopelessness. The signs that can help you identify would be talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself, looking for a way to kill oneself, talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose, talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain and even loss of interest in doing things that was once enjoyed. When in doubt, there is no harm in asking if they are having suicidal ideations. There is a popular myth that looks at asking these questions as instilling ideas, however research tells us that it is not true. Asking them directly is helpful and can prevent a person from acting upon it.”
The heartbreaking trend of blaming the victim of suicide
Secondly, the whole naming and shaming of the victims of suicide by raising questions like “Why did he/she not think of his parents and family members?” or the classic “He did not even have real problems, what was his problem?” speaks volumes about the hypocritical nature of our society. It is almost as if you have to ‘classify’ to be mentally ill and suffer from suicidal thoughts and if everything is going right in your life (read the mundane parameters of success: roti, kapda and makaan), how dare you even think about committing suicide?
Yes, one of the absolutely shameful things we can do as an individual is linking a person’s productivity to his/her mental wellness. As long as the person is doing well professionally, his crippling mental state can be easily brushed under the carpet or he might be even asked to “snap out of it”, “do yoga” or “go for a walk.” After all, which suicidal person hasn’t felt better after taking a walk?
While we by any means are not undermining the importance of physical wellbeing and exercising in boosting one’s mental health, we really do need to stop dissecting why a person is feeling suicidal and jump to “what” we can do to make him/her feel better. The first step for the same is to stop doling out insensitive statements pertaining to why he/she should not be feeling this way and train ourselves to become more considerate and sensitive. We need to stop with our nauseating hypocrisy.
Kindness is always free and rarely enough
Most of us have grown listening to timeless tales and fables that contained inspirational and moral lessons. These stories were tailor-made for young minds and aimed to enable them to become better human beings. However, somewhere between the race of being a more successful member of society and project a ‘lit’ life on our social media handles, we simply forgot that kindness is the very essence of humanity. The increasingly popular roast culture is the living embodiment of the fact that we no longer care if our words pierced through someone’s soul–we simply want more followers, more likes and a verified account.
As we are all struggling to cope up behind four walls in this pandemic, we need to remember that kindness can go as far as saving someone’s life. Hope is the ultimate antidote of suicide and kindness is the language in which hope is delivered. Those struggling with mental health conditions and piercing suicidal thoughts, don’t want to die as much as they want the pain to end– and this is where you can chip in. You can serve as a living, breathing reminder that they can and will be able to feel joy again, experience light and happiness once again. You have to stay put to help them heal, one day at a time. From daily text messages, sending small tokens of love to even showing up at someone’s front door to show that they matter can go a long way in helping that person fight the persistent, ominous dark thoughts of taking their own life. Infact, even a, “Hey, how are you? Just checking in on you,” can give a ray of flickering hope to someone with suicidal tendencies.
Sense something is wrong? Reach out
“As a friend, the way to help would be to be present, hear them out without judgement, validate their emotions.
Any statements about suicide should be taken seriously; most people who died by suicide give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member. Most people considering suicide need help getting through their moment of crisis. Often they have tried to find solutions but may begin to feel hopeless and unable to see alternative solutions to problems.
While it may be seem natural to try and find solutions yourself for your friend, it is advisable that you help them get to a professional treatment. If someone is in imminent danger of harming himself or herself, do not leave the person alone, limit access to sharp objects or other lethal means. You may need to take emergency steps to get help, such as calling a suicide helpline,” Psychologist Charvi Jain further noted.
Remember, let’s not put the onus of talking and reaching out on someone who is already battling suicidal thoughts, but let’s reach out to that person ourselves! Let’s not wait for someone to take the ultimate step before we pay more attention to those struggling with mental health conditions. If you are fortunate enough to understand the gravity of the situation, take it as a challenge to educate those around you, starting from the elders in the family who eventually go on to become the “log” in the ‘log kya kahengey’ statement.