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THE PRESSURE OF PERFECTION

— Jasmeen Dugal

The recent suicide of actors Preksha Mehta, Manmeet Grewal and Kushal Punjabi brings into focus the growing number of suicides with all of its pain, grief and lingering questions; just when it seems that life had taken these people places, it seems implausible that they could end their life. The tragic news sends shockwaves to everyone who knew of them as successful, independent and full of life. But, it's a two-headed sword. If you are successful, have a cult fan following and leading an enviable lifestyle, it's near impossible to reveal something is amiss…

 

The troubling question, is, why? For those outside of the industry looking in, it may be hard to believe that this glamorous profession takes a toll on its players' mental health. But the heavily documented, high-stakes nature of the world of television and films comes with the pressure to maintain a certain image where looks and appearance mean everything… driving people to undertake loans for the right house, the right vacation, the right look. Those who have a stellar career may have sacrificed family ties, friendships and relationships and their support system is weaker than that of people in other professions. For those who can't handle it, suicide seems to be easier than admitting to being broke, asking for help or returning to their hometown. Why?! People in this situation must learn to let go, accept that being less than perfect is normal and develop other interests! In the current scenario, if you are stuck in Mumbai without work due to the pandemic, GO HOME for a few months and return when the industry is back on its feet. There is nothing wrong in doing that and you are not answerable to anyone!!

 

An actor, who does not wish to be named, quit films after years of battling depression. 'It was so painful' she confided in me. 'Most of us in this industry are fragile; stressed, drinking too much, eating too little, barely sleeping two- three hours. The culture of working around the clock to stay ahead of relentless competition puts our mental health at risk. And, with media constantly following us, there is too much at stake to seek medical help or take time off. My boyfriend encouraged me to see a psychiatrist when I slipped into depression, binge- drinking and crying myself to sleep after two films didn't do well and I was dismissed by the media, the industry, the trolls. Today I am pursuing my second love: interiors. I am in a much better space.'

 

The point of this editorial — how can we help someone who we know is losing grip on reality? Gently give them an opportunity to ventilate feelings. You don't need to say much and there are no magic words. Just give them relief from being alone with their pain, insecurities and stress. Unfortunately though in every other suicide attempt, someone succeeds. Could there have been signs their loved ones missed? If caught in time, friends, family and mental-health facilities could dissuade people from taking their life. Sometimes we feel helpless because we do not know how to react. We wish we knew… hey if each of us look out for our friends, family and colleagues… the world would be a better place and perhaps a lot of lives would be saved?
 

SUICIDE AWARENESS
if each of us look out for our friends, family and colleagues… perhaps a lot of lives would be saved?
 
20-MAY-2020
 
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