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Silent Crisis

Silent Crisis

“Sushant Singh found dead, Bollywood numbed” was the headline of the newspaper announcing the suicide of 34-year actor. By sheer hard work, capability and talent he had made a position for himself in the highly competitive film world. 

The entire film fraternity was shocked and expressed their routine condolences. Why did this young and talented actor with so much popularity decided to end life at such a young age?

The suicide of celebrities is not anything new. We can have a long list of rich and famous persons who ended their lives while they were on the top of their career. Marilyn Monroe, the famous American actress, model and singer killed herself in 1962 when she was only 46. Several film stars have ended their lives when they were enjoying much popularity.  Divya Bharati, Jiah Khan, Silk Smitha, Nafisa Joseph and Kunal Singh are some of them.

Behind glamour and glitz many of them suffer loneliness and trauma. In the midst of a crowd of friends and fans they are alone. What they lack is someone to whom they are able to share their struggles freely. Film director Karan Johar admits this fact frankly, “ I blame myself for not being in touch with you for the past year…… I have felt at times like you may have needed people to share your life with….. but somehow I never followed up on that feeling…..  will never make that mistake  again….. We live in very energetic and noisy but still very isolated times…… Some of us succumb to these silences and go within …… we need to not just make relationships  but also constantly  nurture them…”

Suicide is very common among all sections of the society. Teenagers and youth commit suicide for very flimsy reasons: Failure in exams, not getting selected  to  medical  and engineering courses, failure in love affairs,  not getting  what they wanted from their parents and many other such reasons make them to end  their lives.  As per NCRB data every hour a student commits suicide in India. Over two lakh young students end their lives every year. What a national loss! 

It is also shocking to know that every year over ten thousand farmers commit suicide. Yet no Government is paying attention to solve the problems of the farmers.  Human lives have become very cheap in our country.  Media and people take note of a celebrity commit suicide.

Suicide is self-defeat. Self defeat is the worst defeat. Yet parents, teachers, friends and religious preachers  also  are  responsible when   people who are close to them take that extreme step of ending their lives.  Karan Johar admits that responsibility.

I felt the same guilt when  I  came to know  that the former  editor of our  publication  ended his life  at  the age of 69  by hanging in his house. After working with us  for 15 years  when he retired he was not able to visit us due to ill health. I had spoken to him that I  would visit him. Due to various preoccupations and hectic schedule  I postponed my visit. When I heard about his death I felt very guilty. Perhaps my visit would have given him some hope and support.  From that day I made it a point to visit all those who are old, sick and lonely frequently. Spending some time with them and listening to them give positive energy to me also. I also take time to  write letters  to  maximum  persons  and speak to them over the phone  without  expecting anything in return.  I continue writing to them even if they do not  acknowledge  my letters.              

Analysing  about the increasing suicides  among the youth and  celebrities  I am confirmed of  what Swami Vivekanand  has said  about the purpose of education. The definition of education which  he  proposed  hundred years ago is relevant  even  today .  Presenting  three  important salient  features of education he defined it , “ We need an education which builds character, increases the strength of will  and expands  the intellect  by which  a person can stand on his/ her feet”.

By character formation Swami Vivekanand   wants  to make  education  value based. Expansion of intellect will enable  persons to develop critical thinking  and scientific temper.

The third  purpose of education is to increase the strength of will. In other words  educated  person  should  develop mental , spiritual and emotional stamina  which would enable  him /her to face  any challenges  and adversities  in life.  Developing  the  mental and spiritual stamina  is neglected  in today’s education.  Both parents and teachers   treat  students  as a delicate  group  and  provide  over protection to them  by providing all comforts of life. The only aim is to become  the first  by defeating  others.  The youth become victim of  rat race and cut throat  completion.   Hardly any attention is given to help them to formulate a vision of life  and set  realistic goals with  ethics .  

 Today  children and youth have  plenty of  opportunities to develop  their  capacities  to excel in their career and business.  They are able to earn money, luxuries  and freedom at a very early age.  Divya Bharati  commited suicide  at the age of 19 when she was  at the helm of her career in the film industry. 

When persons  touch the skies  by  earning   wealth and popularity  they fail to keep their feet  on the ground . They never had a mentor  to guide their  steps as they  climb the steps of success.

Purpose of  value education programme  and  intense  leadership training which Universal Solidarity Movement  conducts for the youth  is based on  the  definition of Swami Vivekanand  about education . Various  practical  tips  are given to the youth to  develop the mental and spiritual stamina. Practical lessons from  many  examples of  people who  faced  crisis and  obstacles in life  are  presented before them.

Preparing a personal vision,  setting  goals and policies of life  are part of the training.  They are clearly taught that  all their talents and achievements are for the welfare of the humanity.  Sensitivity to the poor and the marginalized, universal solidarity, respect for  dignity of individual and other universal values become part of their life . 

At the end of the training  session all young  participants  realize  the importance of  struggles in life. They  develop a positive attitude and  learn to smile at all crisis. They also develop  mental and spiritual stamina to stay and fight till the last moment without quitting.  Struggle, smile and stay become their motto. Such persons may suffer many setbacks in personal life and career.  Yet they will never  quit. They would  develop a spiritual dimension  to believe, “ I can do all things in Him who strengthens me”

Parents, educationists and religious leaders cannot take our young students for granted. Friends and co-workers have to remember what Karan Johar said, “we need to not just make relationships, but constantly nurture them”.        

(Published on 06th July 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 28)