In less than a week, two grim stories about a Bollywood star and his former manager reportedly taking her own life during the COVID-19 lockdown in India had to be written up swiftly.
Sushant Singh Rajput, one of Bollywood’s most promising and talents actors, committed suicide by hanging himself off his ceiling in Mumbai, sending shock waves across Bollywood. He was just 34.
His untimely death comes a few days after his former manager Disha Salian allegedly committed suicide by jumping off her building. Their deaths has raised the perennial question, ‘Is mental health the silent killer that needs to be urgently acknowledged?’
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As soon as news of Rajput’s suicide broke, his fans have been questioning the state of his mental health and whether the actor was depressed. Did his failing mental health precipitate his suicide?
The two unexpected deaths have put the focus back on mental health among celebrities who live in an insulated world couched with thousands of adoring fans. While the frills like the blind adoration among fans may be addictive, Bollywood can be a highly fickle place where your identity is determined by the success of your films or projects.
If you go by that yardstick, it hasn’t been a great year for Rajput. The actor, who had a blazing start in Bollywood with films such as ‘Kai Po Che’ and ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’, has been facing a tough year professionally when his films ‘Drive’ and ‘Sonchiriya’ didn’t get the desired reaction. Several of his forthcoming projects like the Hindi adaptation of ‘A Fault In Our Stars’ by #MeToo accused director Mukesh Chabbra meant that his film ran into expected hurdles. Although such roadblocks are a familiar fixture for Bollywood stars, did Rajput find himself alienated?
Rajput’s friends in Dubai describe the actor as an amazingly talented human being who was passionate about his craft. While he may have been occasionally disappointed by how Bollywood functioned, there was no indication that he was troubled, maintains his close friend who doesn’t want to be named.
While we may never know what led Rajput and his former secretary to take such a drastic step, isn’t it hight time that mental health become a household conversation? Actors like Deepika Padukone and Celina Jaitly have spoken about their own struggles with mental health, but the numbers are far and few between.
As fans grieve Rajput’s untimely death, a debate is now simmering if mental health issues should be yanked out of the designer carpets and be pulled apart to prevent such tragedies.