Rajput’s death shocks millions of fans | Sunday Observer

Rajput’s death shocks millions of fans

On June 14, popular Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his apartment in Bandra, Mumbai. Just 34 years old at the time of his death, the news shocked his family, friends and millions of fans the world over. But what they did not expect to hear was Rajput, an actor who had been riding a popularity wave and loved by all had taken his own life. Unknown to the world, the ever-smiling and relaxed actor had battled clinical depression, now believed to be the reason for his drastic decision to end his life.

Despite being often talked about, depression continues to be misunderstood, underestimated and stigmatized in society leaving those suffering to battle it alone, even away from those who are closest to them. Rajput’s father, for example, told the Police that he was unaware that his son was battling the illness. His was one of the many suicides caused by depression reported recently. The Covid-19 pandemic has also deeply impacted those suffering from mental illness in recent times.

Depression

According to Clinical Psychiatrist, Dr Nayanananda Kumarayanake it is first important to identify whether one is suffering from depression. “Depression can vary from person to person. But there are some common signs” he said. However, he warns that some symptoms can just be part of mere lows in regular life. “But if the symptoms have lasted longer or a person has more symptoms it is likely he or she is suffering from depression,” he said.

Feeling helpless and hopeless, loss of interest in daily activities, appetite or weight changes, change in sleep patterns, anger and irritability, loss of energy, self-loathing, reckless behaviour, concentration problems, unexplained aches and pains are among the many symptoms or signs of depression.

“When feeling helpless or hopeless for example, a person with depression will feel that nothing can get better and that the person is incapable of doing anything to improve the situation,” he said. “As for sleep changes, insomnia or oversleeping can be a sign of depression” he added. According to Dr Kumaranayake, if any person feels like he or she has been having more than three symptoms in the last two weeks it is important to seek medical help.

While anyone can be affiliated with depression, the Clinical Psychiatrist said that there are a number of identified groups who are vulnerable to depression. “Domestic violence victims, for example, they could be children, youth or even whole families,” he said. According to him, older adults feeling isolated, alone and bereaved are also vulnerable. “Those with mental health problems, learning difficulties and low incomes are also vulnerable groups,” he said adding that however it is not merely limited to those mentioned here.

Dr Kumaranayake stressed that depression is treatable while resulting suicide is preventable as well. “Many people battling depression often seem to think that the symptoms will go away on its own but that is not true,” he said. “It is a serious mental illness and one cannot just will it away or wait it out” he added.

Suicides

“If one has been diagnosed with depression, you need to get proper treatment to get better. No one should suffer needlessly when it’s an illness that is highly treatable,” he said adding that between 80 per cent - 90 per cent of those who get treatment often feel better. “Treatment can be medication or therapy or even a combination of the two,” he noted.

Speaking about the recent spate of suicides, according to Dr Kumaranayake, depression is, in fact, one of the main reasons for suicide. “But attempting suicide is always not due to mental illness, it is a misconception” he said.

The World Population Review report in 2018 gave Sri Lanka’s current suicide rate as 14.6 per 100, 000 of the population ranking Sri Lanka 29th among 157 countries.

According to him, people feeling suicidal are often overwhelmed by painful emotions and see death as the only way out. Statistics claim that 60 per cent of those who have suicidal intent are depressed.

“Those who are suicidal often lose sight of the fact that suicide is a permanent solution to the temporary state,” he said, adding that often those who survive suicide attempts are later glad they survived.

According to Dr Kumaranayake, excessive and long-lasting sadness, mood swings, unexpected rage, sleep problems, withdrawal, hopelessness are a few signs to look out for in someone who might be suicidal.

“Then sometimes they have a sudden calmness after a period of depression, it is a sign that the person has decided to end his or her life,” he said.

“Changes in personality, harmful behaviour, recent trauma, making sudden preparations like giving away personal things, talking about killing oneself can all be red flags,” he added.

But what is important, Dr Kumaranayake says is understanding that depression is treatable while suicide is preventable. “Because of the stigma people don’t talk about their suicidal thought or the emotional pain. They feel it’s a weakness.

But in fact, it’s all due to a chemical change in their brains,” he said adding that people should talk to their friends and relatives about their depressive symptoms and seek immediate help from a health professional.

Those seeking help can contact the following helplines: Sumithrayo - 0112696666

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