Bollywood Suicide Underscores Importance of Recognizing and Treating Mental Illness

Bollywood Suicide Underscores Importance of Recognizing and Treating Mental Illness


“Very honestly, I just have two friends.” - Sushant Singh Rajput

Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput once said that he had trouble making friends. I feel like there are a lot of us who can relate to this statement. Sadly, Sushant’s body was found in his home in Mumbai on the morning of June 14 after an apparent suicide. In the midst of a state of mourning over his loss, the overarching conversation has quickly turned to mental health, specifically depression.

“…many people mourning Sushant’s death today snigger and gossip when someone known to them sees a shrink.” – Rahul Sabharwal, city editor of The Indian Express newspaper

Depression is a cold-hearted mental disorder, and despite the fact that this particular event happened in India this time, this unfortunate story is not uncommon worldwide. Here in the US, depression and suicide share a disturbingly high correlation. In fact, over 50% of all Americans who die by suicide suffer from major depression – and this percentage increases to over 75% when you factor in alcoholics who are depressed. When you combine this with the statistic stating that more than 18 million Americans suffer from depression each year, the link between depression and suicide becomes frighteningly real. However, there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel: depression is among the most treatable forms of psychiatric illnesses.

“Mental health really needs to become more prioritized… rather than being taboo and the ‘if you’re depressed, just get over it’ mentality.” – Noreen Wozar, social media user, in reaction to Sushant Singh Rajput's suicide

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of – in fact, you shouldn’t be ashamed of any mental illness. Having said this, it’s incredibly important to separate depression from sadness, as it has become frustratingly common for the two terms to be used interchangeably. This can be seen quite frequently on social media when people declare to be depressed because their favorite seasonal latte is sold out, or because their favorite sports team is in the midst of a 5-game losing streak. Conversely, those of us who suffer legitimate depression may be written off as simply being really sad for an extended period of time. Subsequently, the “popular” perception of a depression diagnosis has been trivialized, even ridiculed.

This has to stop. Depression has to be seen for what it is, not for what it isn’t. We have to educate ourselves, learn to recognize the symptoms, and eliminate the stigma surrounding those who are suffering. And equally as important, we have to stop belittling those who reach out for help. When we finally find ourselves in this new routine, we can begin to heal.


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