Somy Ali, works closely with rape and domestic violence victims through her NGO, No More Tears, has never held back from talking about social and mental health issues. She shares her thoughts about suicide and its connection with mental health on World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10).
She is on a mission to find a missing actor—Raj Kiran. He is known for his memorable performances in films like Karz (1980), Arth (1982), and Ilzaam (1986), among others. He reportedly sank into depression and has been missing for more than a decade.
Somy adds, “I am keen on knowing where and how Raj Kiran is doing. What happened to him? I will not give up on looking for him, and this is not a publicity stunt. “Looking into the well-being of those who have vanished into oblivion is part of my job as a social worker.”
The quest to look out for the actor is the guilt of not having been informed enough to help the late actress, Parveen Babi, who suffered from schizophrenia and died in 2005. Somy says, “Had we made talk therapy a norm a year ago, Parveen Babi would have still been alive. She suffered from schizophrenia and no one cared to help or made an effort to even acknowledge her ailment. This is why I am keen on knowing where and how Raj Kiran is doing?”
Throwing light on the serious topic of depression, the activist, who also suffered from depression, says, “I would be lying if I told you that I have not had suicidal thoughts intertwined with the most common question: why are we all here? This is all combined with sadness, which is circumstantial. Depression, on the other hand, stems from genetics or a literal lack of serotonin that causes an actual chemical imbalance in your brain. Therefore, sadness and depression are two completely different emotions altogether.”
Somy wants every person suffering from depression to know that there is help out there. She praises Deepika Padukone for initiating the conversation around mental health in India. She gushes, “Deepika changed the entire conversation when it comes to mental health in India. It is because she shared her plight that people are opening up and talking about it. She made history, and I am tremendously proud of her courage.”
She has advice for today’s youth: Always have a plan B. She elaborates, “Look at Subhash Ghai—he came to the industry to be an actor, but ended up becoming one of the best directors of his era. Similarly, our youth must have a backup plan. Failure at one thing does not mean you will fail at everything. We are all good at something, and we can all find our calling if we try. I know I found mine.”
On a parting note, Somy suggests a pragmatic solution to thwart suicidal thoughts. “Always think of those who are worse off than you. Life is precious and suicide is selfish because you will be gone, but the ones who loved you and left behind have to deal with eternal suffering. Ponder that for a moment or two. Think about your friends and family. You do not want them to suffer, do you?” she concludes.