Death of a Star : Depression and more

India was shaken by the untimely death of Shushant Singh Rajput(SSR) and so was I. Not that I was fan of SSR but because someone so young but successful just took his dear life. SSR was a small town boy, an outsider who had been successful in Bollywood, that in itself is a big win. As the news came out, within minutes several theories surfaced as to why SSR committed suicide. Media did its part, bombarding people with hypothesis and the depression the actor was going through. Media did what it did best; generated cacophony.

In the meanwhile I started doing my own research, reading selective articles about Shushant as well as consuming the crass news that surfaced in the days that followed his death. Depression became a hot topic, people who were no authority in the field of depression (psychological sciences) began to give lose opinions. About a week after the star’s death, people drew causalities as to why he was depressed and his death was attributed to the Bollywood Mafia.

After we get access to enough information, it is usually easy to connect the dots because we fall for confirmation bias. All the conclusions we draw are conveniently supported by attributing to selective data that we find appropriate. Unfortunately, all VIP deaths are subjected to such analysis. In hindsight everything is 20/20. But as I was slowly progressing towards finding out more, I happened to watch SSRs old interviews. Obviously due to confirmation bias my lens of seeing those interviews was muddied. But here is what I gathered, SSR was no doubt intelligent, a deep thinker and passionate about science, especially astronomy. He liked to explain complex things and one might think what he was doing among the Bollywood populace of mediocre intellect at best. This inference was easy to arrive at, you could simply read the comments and understand.

But what is difficult to identify is a person who is extremely passionate about something beyond the common life and disconnected with his/her surroundings. SSR was somewhat disconnected from the reality. Philosophy, astronomy, spirituality are some of disciplines that have immense potential to disconnect you from the current normal reality. Alternate reality is what you seek. The harder you seek that alternative reality the more detached you become from the present world. It is just like developing alternate consciousness through drugs. People who are not comfortable in their present reality, reticent and recluse often fall prey to this. Maybe those who become successful at chasing such disciplines become great scientists and philosophers. Those who don’t give-up and accept their reality. That leads to the next question, why SSR was so detached from his successful reality? And that question would be always left unanswered.

Some thoughts about depression: Again, I am no authority on this subject but would like to jot some observations. I know friends who are/were depressed. One common thread was they struggled at accepting the reality and were never comfortable with the thought of nothing could be done about the present reality or past events. They are immensely talented and have their own ways of exploring alternate realities. Now the challenge is was depression a reason that one may strive to seek alternate realities and chase arcane subjects or is depression a result of inability to make peace with the current reality and smoothly transcend into alternate reality.

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