2020 has been filled with a great amount of loss, defeat, and fear. It has been even more difficult for those suffering from a mental illness. Sushant Singh Rajput, a Bollywood actor, died today as a result of suicide. It was said that he was battling depression for around 6 months.
Sushant was always a lively person from what we were able to see. Before our IIFA 2017 experience, where we got to dance with Bollywood’s top actors and actresses at MetLife Stadium, we vividly remember stalking Sushant’s Instagram. Unlike other actors his instagram was filled with such inspirational content. Had we not known he was an actor, we would have easily been convinced that he was a philosopher and motivational speaker from what he projected on his social media.
He even was following 6,753 people on Instagram! Random people. No celebrity ever does that. Obviously because no one wants to follow random people, but Sushant was different in the sense that, we guess, he just wanted to connect with people on a personal level. In an interview he mentioned how he doesn’t even know how much money he has got in his bank account because he doesn’t care. He cared about relationships and cherished life.
Then came the day where we met him at IIFA 2017. Sanjana even got to share the stage with his impeccable presence and got to groove to his beats at MetLife stadium. He was so thrilled and just delved into the music as he energized the crowd. That was the Sushant Singh Rajput we knew- the humble, talented, and passionate human being.
Sushant’s loss truly felt so personal. I will always be in awe of how someone who was in so much pain never allowed the people around him to feel the same pain. Many qualities I aspired to develop as a person stem from the inspirational content he always projected. I still remember stalking his Instagram and coming across several life-changing self-improvement books that he recommended, which I eventually decided to read. Although at that time I may not have had clarity as to why he recommended them and why I should read them, I did it and I see the profound effect it had on developing me as a person years later. Each of those books he recommended and all of the words of wisdom he had to offer stuck with me and shaped a major part of who I am.
Waking up to this news shocked us to the core. Imagine being in so much pain that the only solution thought of was to end the pain completely by ending your life.
Suicide is real and suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst 10-24 year olds. What’s even more shocking is that “more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED” (Jason Foundation).
Oftentimes we see people say that it’s the victim’s fault for not reaching out for help. However, the problem lies in the way the blame is unknowingly projected. Although we may not be able to offer help the way professionals can, it is our duty and responsibility to acknowledge, normalize and understand a person and create an environment where they can get the help they need.
Sometimes the only way to help someone suffering is for them to get professional help, but you can still act as a pillar of support through not only your actions, but also through your words.
Here is a list of actions that we have compiled from various sources to help those just having a hard time to get by. Remember, these are just a few suggestions and there are limitless ways you can also help:
Let them talk it out, cry it out, work it out with YOU. Be a listener! (MentalHealth.org)
Do not push them to share more and more. Let them decide how much or how little they want to share with you. Do not play doctor and try to “diagnose” them by saying “You probably have anxiety,” “You’re definitely depressed,” “Maybe it’s just a bipolar thing.”
DO NOT blame them!
Oftentimes there are misconceptions that the person “drove themself towards suffering” or that they can just “snap out of it.” Mental health illnesses are not something “chosen” by the person who is affected. It is just as normal as we see with any kind of physical illness, and not something predictable. Do not ever blame them or their circumstances, instead acknowledge it all and create an environment where they can find trust and faith!
DO NOT judge them!
No matter how small, how petty, how minute the issue/situation they’re describing might be to you, never tell them it’s not a big deal. Just because it doesn’t seem life-changing and crying-worthy to you does not mean it makes others feel the same way. Everyone has a different capacity of events they can handle and we must acknowledge how different it is for each person. They’re obviously confiding in you because they trust you and that comes with a “Judge Free Zone.” You’re welcome to say “I, personally, don’t know how that would make me feel, but I can understand where you’re coming from.”
PERFORM actions WITH them
If they’re sobbing so hard that they can’t catch their breath or if you notice them breathing heavily while they’re explaining their situation to you, instead of saying “take a deep breath” do it WITH them! Breathe in and out with them. Show them that you are there for them and you are going to help calm themselves down before continuing.
Go with a friend.
Maybe you, yourself, are not mentally healthy and are afraid that you cannot help your friend/loved one who is struggling. This may mean you could either ask the person suffering if they could talk to another trustworthy friend (IN THE MOST POLITE AND GENUINE WAY POSSIBLE) or help the person suffering by taking another trustworthy person who they may also be comfortable with. This way you have someone else who will also help the person suffering, but will also help you if you’re also struggling with declining mental health.
Just call for help.
Honestly, sometimes it’s out of your control. You just can’t help. What if a friend/loved one texted or called you and hinted that he/she is going to end their life? There’s no guarantee you’ll get there in time. There’s no guarantee you will talk them out of it. There’s no guarantee, so call for help. Call the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 and let them know what is happening. Remember: it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it concerns someone’s life.
Sushant, as disheartening as it was to see you leave us all, we can assure you that you left us with a long lasting lesson and powerful message going forward. We are truly sorry humanity failed you and made the pain so unbearable to have to take this decision. We hope that nobody else ever needs to feel that way and going forward this becomes a major wake-up call for people worldwide to take action and make a difference! Remember this is not something that can be done solely by one person and requires unity to make a difference and this is what Happy2Thrive stands for. Even if we can help one person who was in pain, like Sushant was, our goal has been met!