TW: This article contains sensitive content on Sushant Singh Rajput and the Bollywood Industry.
With Salman Khan tweeting about Sushant’s death, requesting fans to support his family, Sonakshi deleting Twitter as a whole, and Karan Johar unfollowing thousands of stars, including close friend Alia Bhatt, the Bollywood industry continued to boom with negative comments. As the toxicity of the platform grew, it became evident that fans were starting to blame the suicide of Sushant Singh on Alia Bhatt, and other stars who had gained their fame through nepotism.
Nepotism is indeed a horrible part of the Bollywood industry, and must be talked about. However, letting that discussion overwhelm the industry, spreading flat-out rude comments, and ignoring the fact that the stigma around mental health is still spreading is not honoring Sushant’s life in any way. Favoritism and nepotism in the Bollywood industry is nowhere near new. It is true that some actors thrive off of connections made by family and friends. However, ignoring the discussion around mental health will not solve anything.
The stigma around mental health continues to grow
Bollywood isn’t the only place where we can find mental health issues. India as a whole throughout history has had trouble with realizing that mental health is crucial to the wellbeing of not only individuals, but society as a whole. Suicide itself was only decriminalized in 2017. Three years ago, Sushant would’ve been viewed as a criminal in the eyes of the court.
Furthermore, India has one of the highest rates of suicide. According to data from the World Health Organization, 220,000 people are lost each year due to suicide. With the growing mental health problem in India, you’d think someone would try and do something about it. Yet, there seems to be none to little traction in the mental health awareness movement.
Who’s to blame?
Nepotism in the Bollywood industry is important and needs to be torn down. However, right now, ignoring Sushant’s past depression won’t do any good. If Alia Bhatt and Sonam Kapoor and all of these different stars are to blame for Sushant’s suicide, then why aren’t we to blame as well?
Did we not stand by as the stigma around mental health grew? I can’t help but wonder if maybe we had accepted mental health disorders as part of life, if Indian society had truly changed before June 14, if Sushant felt safe to share his illness, maybe we could’ve saved him. We don’t know though, and we most likely never will. Instead of throwing cheap insults at other stars, we should be supporting Sushant’s friends and family.
Speculating these things won’t fix anything. We need to work together. India, as a country, needs to step it up and take responsibility for its actions. Mental health reform needs to happen, in the Bollywood industry, and with all of its citizens. Now.
Will change happen? That’s up to you.
Take action now by visiting mindsfoundation.org