On Wednesday, Union Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi made an absurd statement, claiming she didn’t think men committed suicides. In a Facebook Live video, while commenting on the government’s initiative to lower the number of suicides among men, she said, “Which men have committed suicide? Why not try and resolve the situation rather than commit suicide – I have not heard/read of a single case.” Gandhi immediately drew criticism for her remarks.
From farmer suicides who have taken their lives due to mammoth monetary burden, to celebrities suffering from depression – historical data is fertile with evidence that men do and have committed suicides in the past. As a public servant, Gandhi should responsibly make statements that are anchored in facts, rather than doling out dubious, off the cuff, remarks. Talking about the mounting rate of suicides in our country should be a part of our national discourse. Gandhi snubbing the fact that men don’t take their lives at all, trivialises the subject of suicides, which is prevalent in our society. In 2015, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 1,33,623 suicides in the country, of which 91,528 (68 per cent) were by men and 42,088 were by women. Of the 86,808 people who were married, 64,534 (74 per cent) had been men who had committed suicides.
From Guru Dutt to Robin Williams, here is a list of celebrities who have killed themselves.
The veteran Oscar-winning comedian and actor known for his tremendous contribution to cinema, killed himself on August 11, 2014. He died of asphyxiation at the age of 63. Williams, known for his live-wire performances, known for his memorable television series, Mork & Mindy and classics like Mrs. Doubtfire and Dead Poets’ Society. He was supremely versatile, playing anyone from a quirky, albeit feisty post-menopausal Mrs. Doubtfire to a psychotic murderer in One Hour Photo.
Although there was a widespread belief that the actor killed himself due to depression, William’s widow Susan later revealed that he was suffering from dementia with Lewy Bodies, a not so commonly known disease. It’s symptoms include sleep disruption, hallucinations and loss of consciousness and depression. A combination of all this can lead to tragic actions and consequences.
It was in 1961 that renowned author, Ernest Hemingway known for celebrated novels like The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms (which is preoccupied with the theme of death), killed himself. In the early hours on July 2, 1961, Hemingway shot himself with a double-barreled shotgun. He, his father, sister and brother also have been known to commit suicides. Hemochromatosis, is a genetic deficiency that ran in the Hemingway family, causes mental and physical impairment.
Iconic actor and director, Guru Dutt, known for his magnificent contribution to Indian cinema through masterful pieces like Pyaasa, Kaagaz ke Phool and Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam, had attempted suicide twice, before succeeding the third time. Dutt had a hard time digesting failure; his estranged relationship with his wife, and his inability to marry Waheeda Rehman, who he was madly in love with, tied with his bouts of depression, led to him eventually dying alone. Dutt, it seems, mixed sleeping pills with his drinks one night and was found dead alone in his room the next morning.
It was on April 5, 1994, that Nirvana’s legendary lead singer, Kurt Cobain, killed himself. He taken a shotgun and shot himself. The Seattle Police Department recorded the incident as, “”Kurt Cobain was found with a shotgun across his body, had a visible head wound and there was a suicide note discovered nearby.” He was found with blood pouring out of his ear, from a self inflicted shotgun wound. Cobain had been suffering from drug addiction and had checked out of a drug rehabilitation center prior to his death.
A Telugu serial actor hanged himself to death in May this year, after supposedly having an argument with his wife, Pavani. Kumar used a saree to hang himself, after locking himself in a room at night. The argument it seems, was over a petty issue, after a party at the couple’s house. Other south Indian actors like Uday Kiran and Sai Prashanth have also committed suicide due to depression.