Editor’s Note: Mentions of suicide attempts and depression.

Sushant Singh Rajput, a famous Indian actor, was found dead in his apartment in Mumbai.

The police reported that the 34-year-old actor took his own life by hanging himself.

The world was left breathless when this news came out yesterday. You’re so used to seeing some people—even if from far away, even if from behind a screen—that they become a part of your life. Actors are such people. When we lose them, it feels like a personal loss.

My mind is in a whirlwind because this sudden, and completely heartbreaking news is too much to take in. I’m devastated because we lost another life that we could’ve saved. I’m crestfallen because we keep failing people who need us.

The world was left breathless when this news came out yesterday.

I wish I could say sorry to Sushant—I’m sorry that you were a part of this cruel, heartless world. I’m sorry that you had to lose your life this way. I’m sorry that your pain was bigger than life itself. But there’s no point anymore because it’s too late—he has already left the world.

Let’s begin by talking about the narrative that surrounds suicide and mental health generally.

Mental health is stigmatized almost everywhere in the world. People feel ashamed to disclose their diagnosis because of the way people around them react. And even when they do come out by saying they’re mentally ill, they’re not taken seriously. We can’t see mental illness, so we don’t believe that it exists. But it is real.

I was scanning my social media newsfeeds following Sushant’s death and happened to read some despicable comments about suicide.

“He had a perfect life, but then why did he do this?”

How do we know that he had a perfect life? Since when have wealth, fame and, looks become measures of a happy and content life?

We can’t see mental illness, so we don’t believe that it exists. But it is real.

We didn’t know him personally.

We saw him as a star enacting fiction on the screen. We only knew what his life looked like on the outside—we didn’t know him closely. We didn’t know how much was wrong in his apparently perfect life. We’re not in the position to make assumptions about somebody’s life when all we know is what movies they did.

We didn’t live Sushant’s life. We can’t make judgments about what pushed him over to the edge.

When people resort to suicide, we should be careful with our words because we don’t know the truth about their precarious life. We only ever find out when it’s too late.

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Fame, wealth, and high movie ratings are not a precondition to life—they do not necessarily mean a happily ever after. We need to stop assuming that they do. We need to stop reducing someone’s life to what it looks like on the outside. And we need to stop believing that we know everything.

“He should’ve reached out, asked for help.”

When I was depressed, I asked for help. In fact, I verbally asked for it but I never got it. So before you say this again, think twice. You and I both know that mental health is hardly ever taken seriously.

Depressed people do reach out for help but in different ways. Sometimes they ask for it directly, but other times, it’s more subtle. They lose interest in the things that they love, they become distant, their physical health deteriorates, they seek therapy, they feel tired all the time, they lose sleep—all of this and more.

You and I both know that mental health is hardly ever taken seriously.

They’re asking for help. They’re reaching out. We can’t blame them for giving up. It’s not their fault that we are deaf to their pleas for help.

“Suicide is never the answer.”

This statement particularly makes me ripple with pain, anger, and heartbreak.

At times, and I hate to say this, for some people, suicide can feel like the answer. I’m saying this because I’ve had a close experience, and I know what a person feels in that fleeting moment when they take their own life.

You’re falling apart. You’re too broken to scoop up pieces of yourself and make yourself whole again. The voices in your head get louder, telling you that this pain will last forever. You need somebody to help, and when nobody shows up—you falter.

And at that moment—it’s not pain, it’s relief. It’s the thought of floating away into the unknown—of your pain finally dissolving to nothing. 

There’s nothing in the world that can stop you then, because, in that moment, you feel you’re already dead.

I don’t know why Sushant took his life. Even though I can easily say that I wish he hadn’t done what he did, I can also imagine how great must his pain be that he chose to end his life.

With that, it’s important as ever to realize that depression is real. People do lose their life when their mental health hits its lowest—so many people have taken their lives in the past, and many more people will follow the same course in the future if we don’t act now.

Reach out to the people you love. Tell them that you’re here for them. Show them that you care. Everyone needs to know that they’re important.

Everyone wants to preserve whatever life they have left in the time of COVID-19. Nobody wants to lose more. Human life is precious. We need to protect each other.

Sushant’s loss feels immense. I’m not sure how long will it take for us to recover from it. But I also hope that we’ve learned this time that mental illnesses are real.

If you or someone you know needs support for issues about emotional distress, these resources might be able to help.

  • Izza Malik is a university student based in Lahore, Pakistan. She is focusing on Political Science at university but her main interests lie in fiction writing, journalism, and drawing. Izza also has a blog called Escaping Space which is dedicated to feminist writing, raising issues concerning the various marginalized communities in Pakistan and sometimes narrative and poetry writing. In her free time, you’ll find her reading murder mystery books, watching shows on Netflix and cooking desserts.