Skyrocketing to stardom, most young starlets in tinsel town are unable to bear the burden accompanied by sudden success. Being propelled into a glitzy world, they are either consumed by the atmosphere or emerge victoriously. Saddled by instant stardom, either most of them are unable to handle fame, or lose their mind if job offers discontinue. Initial sheer boredom rapidly translates into manic depression, stemming from failed relationships, lack of work and financial burden which pile up. These adverse circumstances are often the reasons which unfortunately drive these women to commit suicide.
Mindscape: Psychologist’s Viewpoint
Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Mental Health, Fortis Healthcare: “Before we get into the specifics of these celebrity suicide cases, we need to first take a closer look at suicides in general. Suicide is the eighth highest killer in the world. Out of 100 people who die because of suicide, 90 of them have an untreated or unidentified psychological disorder and out of this lot 75 per cent have depression. The second aspect is to look at proximal and distal factors. Distal factor is something which is making one vulnerable over a long period of time for example you might be suffering from depression, financial woes, family problems or other issues since six months. While if you have a breakup or are struck by sudden unemployment that would be a proximal factor. So, both these factors are the cause behind the suicide. The distal factor which has been making you vulnerable for a long time and the proximal factor which acted as a precipitating agent drive one to commit suicide. Most of us focus on the only proximal factor not realising that the factor acted because the person developed vulnerability over a period of time. Also because that vulnerability was not taken care of and help and attention not provided to them, this is where the entire problem starts.”
“When this is applied to the girls who are coming in from all over India to Mumbai to become Bollywood actors, models or television actors, then first thing is that they are not living with their family. They stay alone, don’t have family support and are reeling under a lot of pressure and competition. Success isn’t coming to them easily, they are constantly facing failure, and thus they face so many different things, so obviously their vulnerability is even higher. That’s why help is needed especially in such cases. The approach to suicide needs to be from a societal perspective. Firstly it is most important to create awareness about help, get help for them and create awareness about it. Besides that, its most important to have a strong support system which includes family, friends, colleagues, need to learn to be sensitive to identify a vulnerable person and start standing by them, start sharing their problems with them, listening to them and eventually if required take them to actual professional help. A lot of times we view suicides in a superficial way, that it happened due to a breakup or failed relationship that is not always true. We almost end up diluting the whole thing by doing so. Probably it is also the time for us to start preparing a National Suicide Prevention policy which keeps mental health of all people at utmost important level. One of the key factors which can be identified with these cases of celebrity suicide is essentially pressure they face. High success and high failure creates a pressure zone. Not being with your family, being a public personality with each of your activities being scrutinised, sudden fame and not being able to deal with it - all these create pressure.
Pratyusha Banerjee (2016)
On April 1, 2016 Pratyusha was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her house. While Pratyusha’s mother has pressed charges of abetment to suicide against Singh, accusing him of abusing her, cheating on her and taking money from her, Singh and his family have in turn alleged that Pratyusha was depressed due to a financial crunch. The actor had been unable to achieve the same kind of popularity after quitting Balika Vadhu in 2013 and was last seen in the reality show Power Couple in 2015.
Shikha Joshi (2015)
Shikha Joshi, who was last seen in the movie BA Pass committed suicide by slitting her throat open at her flat in Versova, Mumbai. It is speculated that the actress took an extreme step due to frustration of not getting acting roles in Bollywood. Joshi had alleged Dr. Vijay Sharma, who had performed a breast implant surgery on her in 2006, of sexually exploiting her in 2011. The doctor had gone missing since her death, but when the
Mumbai Police later recorded a statement from him wherein he blamed Joshi for asking for a free treatment after the first operation he performed on her.
Jiah Khan (2013)
Khan reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan in a
bedroom of her Juhu residence in Mumbai on 3 June, 2013, when her mother Rabiya and
sister Kavita were not at home. On 7 June, 2013, a six-page suicide note was found by her sister. The note is reported to indicate that she had planned to end her life. A transcript was released by Khan's family which included mention of a recent abortion. Sooraj Pancholi, who was allegedly in a live-in relationship with Khan, was taken into custody in association with her suicide on 10 June, 2013. The Bombay High Court granted him bail on 2 July, 2013. Her death case is being probed by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Jiah Khan rose to fame in Bollywood for her roles in Nishabd, Ghajini and then lastly in Housefull.
Viveka Babajee (2010)
The supermodel was found hanging from the ceiling fan in her apartment on 25 June, 2010 at her Bandra residence in Mumbai. Police reports stated that Babajee committed suicide due to depression. The last entry in her diary, which was found next to her body, said, “you killed me, Gautam Vohra (her boyfriend).” Reports also indicated that that she became depressed after separating from Vohra. In 2012, the case was re-opened by police after Gautam Vohra was arrested in connection with a murder case.
Kuljeet Randhawa (2006)
On 8 February, 2006, TV actress Kuljeet hanged herself in her apartment in Juhu, a suburb of Mumbai. In a suicide note, Kuljeet stated that she was ending her life as she was unable to cope with life's pressures. Shortly before her death, she had completed filming for the movie By Chance.
Parveen Babi (2005)
Babi was found dead on 22 January, 2005 after her residential society secretary alerted the police that she had not collected milk and newspapers from her doorstep for three days. The police suspected that she may have been dead for up to 72 hours before her body was found. The cause of her death was not immediately known. She was found to have gangrene of the left foot as a complication of her diabetic condition. A wheelchair was found near her bed and a series of disarranged paintings, clothes, medicines and old newspapers. A post mortem was conducted at
Cooper Hospital and reports showed that there were no traces of food in her stomach but some alcohol (possibly from her medication) was found and it is possible that she had not consumed anything for more than three days and as a consequence starved to death. The police ruled out any foul play and it was determined she succumbed due to total organ failure and diabetes.
Nafisa Joseph (2004)
Joseph hanged herself in her flat in Versova in Mumbai on 29 July, 2004. She was to marry businessman Gautam Khanduja in a few weeks' time. According to her parents, Joseph took the step because her marriage was called off. This was due to Joseph having discovered that Khanduja was still married, although having told her he had been divorced for two years. When confronted, Khanduja refused to answer questions about his marital life or produce divorce papers that he had previously claimed he had filed. Joseph was a model-turned-video jockey. She had won the Miss India Universe 1997 pageant and was a semi-finalist in the Miss Universe 1997 pageant in Miami.
Silk Smitha (1996)
Silk Smitha was an Indian film actress who worked predominantly in the South Indian films. She entered the industry as an extra actress and first got noticed for her role as “Silk” in the 1979 Tamil film Vandichakkaram. She became the most sought-after erotic actress in the early 1980s. She was found dead on the morning of September 23, 1996 in her home in Saligramam near Chennai, hanging by a rope from the ceiling fan in her bedroom. In a suicide note that she had written in Telugu, she claimed that continual failure in life had led to frustration and made her take this drastic step. Vidya Balan’s The Dirty Picture was loosely based on the life of Silk Smitha.
Divya Bharti (1993)
The tragic end of the 19-year old Divya Bharti, who had allegedly fallen from the window of her 5th floor apartment around midnight on April 5, 1993 still stays as one of the most shocking and mysterious deaths ever in Bollywood.