By Florine Roche
Sep 28: Someone had just sent me a 5-minute video promo clipping of 'First Rank Raju', a Kannada film released in 2015, on my WhatsApp. I wondered how I had missed watching this movie when it was released because it was a path breaker in many ways. The film dealt with the most relevant topic of our times - our educational system and the present-day reality where the success is measured in terms of academic excellence. In the process, parents ignore the mental and emotional needs of their children and that is the crux of the problem of the increased incidents of suicides we come across. The take-home message of this film was that academic excellence alone cannot help children to cope with the challenges they face in real life.
I happened to watch this video just after I read the shocking news about the suicide of 16-year-old TikTok star and young sensation Siya Kakkar. I could help relating the video to the take-home message amply reflected in that promo video of First Rank Raju film clipping I watched. Siya Kakkar was a young sensation, well-known for her lip-synching dance videos on social media app with over 1 million followers and more. She was young, beautiful, and successful at a young age and considered to have a great influence on the younger generation. She had a bright future ahead or that is what everyone thought. Who could make out that there was so much grief or trauma behind the smiling faces we see across in the media?
(L to R): Sushant Singh Rajput, Siya Kakkar and Preksha Mehta
It is said that professionally Siya was doing great and the reason for her suicide is personal. A few reports insinuated that she was threatened by someone for her music videos. The suicide of this bubbly teenager comes as a rude shock, coming as it is within two weeks after the suicide of another high profile artiste actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Even in the case of Sushant, it is said that he was upset because someone wanted to ruin his career. The tragedy is that if these reports are to be believed these stars Siya and Sushant ended up doing exactly what their rivals/enemies wanted to. They succumbed to it so easily.
A month ago television star 25-year-old Preksha Mehta also had committed suicide as she was upset as her shooting schedules had affected due to lockdown. Going back by a few months, we have seen that a couple of young celebrities have committed suicide. Yes, celebrity suicides have its fallout also. Studies worldwide indicated a spike in suicides following a celebrity suicide and that is why we need to be more cautious in tackling this adverse trend. The current suicides by youngsters are naturally raising quite a few questions and also concerns over the emotional and mental health of our youth.
Prevention of suicide is a collective responsibility of the society. As a society, we need to ask this question why our celebrities, whom many others consider as role models to our youth, fail to accept failure as part of a package. Many youngsters, who work hard in diverse fields to attain name, fame and wealth and are considered ‘successful’ professionally, are big failures when it comes to their personal lives. They are unable to handle common challenges like family problems, illness, professional rivalry, failed relationships, failed love, divorce, extramarital affairs, unemployment, job loss, business loss and failure in examinations. These are some of the reasons that drive our youth to commit suicide. Maybe we need to ponder over and find out whether there something wrong in the way we bring up our children or is there something basically wrong with our educational system. As parents may be in our anxiety to make our children ‘successful’ only from an academic point of consideration we failed to give equal importance to the mental health and emotional well being as much as we give importance to their physical health.
Today’s youth instead of facing life’s situations bravely seem to run away from the personal or professional challenges they face. While they work hard to attain success and accept it they are unable to face the adversities that come with the glory. They fail to realize that it is a package deal and there is an easy way out to accept only success and discard failures. True, it is much more painful to deal with failures.
Psychologists opine that the negative effect of failure on individuals is twice than that of success. That is there is a greater need to help our youth to cope with failures in life.
These days’ youngsters move away from the cushioned lifestyle of their homes in search of jobs and careers. In such situations, it is only their emotional health that can help them to cope with the challenges of life. Academic success without the wherewithal to deal with real-life exigencies will come to a nought.
Apart from parents, schools and colleges also play a crucial role in shaping the mental and emotional needs of our youth. A three-pronged approach involving student-teacher-parent would help create a proper foundation for building strong individuals would help. We also need to change our mindset in accepting and dealing with failures. That is like winning half the battle.