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Jiah Khan, Depression & Suicide

Jiah Khan was a talented, young Brit-Asian actor who rose to prominence in Bollywood, starring alongside greats including Amitabh Bachchan (in Nishabd), Aamir Khan (Ghajini) and Akshay Kumar (Housefull). On June 4th 2013, news broke of Jiah’s apparent suicide at her Mumbai residence –  according to BBC News. She was 25 years old, and was believed to be suffering from depression.

In light of her unfortunate passing, I witnessed some horribly ignorant comments about depression/suicide when browsing through Facebook and Twitter. And whilst there’s not too much I can say regarding the circumstances surrounding her death, as I didn’t know her, I CAN talk about depression.

There’s no on/off switch for it, and you cannot always ‘just deal with it’ (as one Facebook commenter stated she should have done). It’s like being trapped inside your mind, without having any control over your thoughts. The isolation it brings is one of the most horrible feelings ever. Loneliness and the feeling that existence is crumbling around you. It’s crumbling, but no one else can see that. It feels like you’re drowning, whilst everyone else thinks you’re swimming. Whether these comments were based on individual ignorance, or a general lack of understanding and empathy is hard to decipher, but it is no shock that depression is often misunderstood, particularly within Asian communities [Read RZK’s CALMzine article on Depression in the Brit-Asian Community HERE]

We need to understand that depression is an extremely serious issue that should be dealt with through understanding, and being there for someone. The terms ‘selfish’ and ‘cowardly’ are thrown around way too freely when it comes to discussions about suicide. Some people believe that suicide is taking the easy way out. I cannot begin to explain how wide of the mark that is. Imagine what mental torture you must be going through to believe entirely that your existence being cut is the only way to stop the pain, for both you and those around you. That stress, which often manifests in the physical, is unfathomable.  It is such a personal emotion that it makes you believe no one else could possibly feel the same. Being suicidal can often leave your mental state askew of reality in rushes of adrenaline, and life becomes increasingly claustrophobic – a nightmare you can’t wake up from. I was taken aback by certain ignorance following Jiah Khan’s death, and the alarming lack of empathy towards such a serious issue, which claims so many lives worldwide.

We really DO have control of our minds, and we CAN tackle depression, but it’s not always that easy. It’s not always possible. You’ve no clue what mental torture an individual must have gone through in order for them to take their own life. Meaning, you’ve no right to be so ignorant and judgemental. Try to really understand what they were going through, and be thankful you didn’t have to personally experience what they did.

Give reality a closer look, and you’ll begin to see that depression is a lot more common than you think. Suicide often comes as a shock, because you never would have known otherwise. Please open your eyes, minds and hearts, and you never know whom you might end up saving.

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