The growing number of suicides in a burgeoning metropolis such as Mumbai, where lacs of youngsters from all over the nation shift base to realise their dreams, is as heartbreaking as it is staggering… with all of its attendant pain, grief and lingering questions. The suicide of a young person is especially agonising for those left behind; just when it seems, at least from the outside, that life could have taken these youth places, suicide bolts down every door. Take the recent case of actor Pratyusha Banerjee. It seems implausible that someone so young and beautiful, whose screen presence was full of energy and vitality, could end her life. The tragic news sent shockwaves as everyone knew of her as a successful, independent woman in control of her life. But, it's a two-headed sword. If you are successful and leading an enviable existence, it's near impossible to admit something is amiss. Behind the loving boyfriend, the celebrity friends and the fabulous career, the reality of her life is now laid bare and her suicide has become gossip fodder. The very thing she had wanted to avoid all of this time…
The simple and troubling question, of course, is Why? Mumbai will always have its glamour and anonymity. For those who can't handle it, suicide is an unwanted side effect of some of the very things that make the city so appealing.The life of a supermodel or actor — or anyone living a fast-paced urban lifestyle — is not only fiercely competitive but lonely. We have often observed cases of live-in relationships with a boy riffing off his girlfriend's earnings, at times physically abusing her. Such a situation may lead to lack of confidence behind a seemingly happy appearance. He knows she would be careful not to let this mask slip so that an unsavoury story doesn't appear in media and mars her career. but for how long? These girls end up feeling used, which lead to feelings of betrayal, hopelessness and overwhelming emotional pain that can create a mentally unhealthy state… At other times, living alone in the realisation that nobody knows the person behind the glamorous persona [or wants to, other than party conversation and selfies, which wind up on RIP posts across social media should a tragedy occur!] can lead to a breakdown. Yes, there's a seamy, lonely, abusive side of glamour which few are acquainted with. It's like a pressure cooker, and for some people, they're pushed so far that they lose their grip. An actor, who does not wish to be named, quit the industry after years of battling depression. ''It was so painful'' she confided in me. ''Almost every one of us in this industry is fragile, stressed, drinking too much, eating too little, some are on pills — but no one talks about it because we have to keep up the act that everything is fabulous! Eventually, my boyfriend encouraged me to quit films, see a psychologist and get on anti-anxiety medication. Today I am married to him and pursuing my second love — photography.'' The careening economic climate adds to the pressure—it's important to recognise the high-pressure environment that models and actors exist in. When you're successful, you're surrounded by people who have a financial interest in your career, who want you to be working all the time and who may not necessarily look kindly on the notion of taking time off. Take your own decision — there is nothing more important than your well-being!! Actors also often resort to taking loans to maintain their lavish lifestyle in the delusion that the next film would pay it off… but payback can be brutal.
The point of this editorial — how can we help someone who is losing grip on reality? Suicide attempts are half-hearted cries for attention, help and love. Friends or family must raise the issue sensitively and ask about what led to it, which gives the person at risk opportunity to speak about her distress, and demonstrates to her that there are people who care. She could feel relieved if the issue is raised in a caring non-judgemental manner; talking through it helps resolve the issue that led to such a drastic action. Just talking about how she got to this point in her life can release a lot of the pressure that is building up and help her find a way to cope. So give the person opportunity to unburden her troubles and ventilate her feelings. You don't need to say much and there are no magic words. Just give her relief from being alone with her pain. Unfortunately though in every other suicide attempt, someone succeeds. Could there have been signs that loved ones missed? If caught in time, friends, family, mental-health services and counselling helplines could dissuade a lot of people from taking their life. Sometimes we feel helpless because we do not know how to react. We wish we knew…
Perhaps high schools and universities should have a mandatory class that encourages open, honest and sensitive conversation about what drives someone to want to take their life, identify signs of depression and suicidal tendency, and explain how we can help someone exhibiting these signs. As responsible adults, it is our moral duty to educate people that talking about suicide doesn't make someone suicidal. 50 years ago, people didn't talk about cancer and today strides have been made in its treatment. The same intentionality will have to happen for suicide, because just as stigmas existed for cancer once upon a time, they cling to suicide today. If each one of us begin to look out for our loved ones and colleagues… the world would be a better place and perhaps a lot of lives would be saved?
Click here for national suicide helpline numbers and do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call!