— Jasmeen Dugal
The recent suicide of young successful actors Kushal Punjabi, Sushant Singh Rajput, Preksha Mehta, Manmeet Grewal and Dev Gowda 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. 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 when work flow stops or they cannot repay loan sharks, 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, Delhi or South without work, 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 for your decision!!!!
An actor, who does not wish to be named, quit films after years of battling depression. 'It was painful' she confided in me. 'Most of us in this industry are fragile; stressed, drinking a lot, eating too little, sleeping two- three hours. The culture of working round the clock to stay ahead of competition puts our mental health at risk. And, with media constantly following us for photographs or a piece of gossip, there is too much at stake to seek medical help or take time off. My fiance 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'm 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? Spend time with them and 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, 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?