“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)