Bollywood’s Akshay Kumar took to Twitter to urge India’s youth not to succumb to society’s pressures and to see that for every problem there is a solution, and suicide is not it.
During the 4-minute video shared on the actor’s Twitter page, Akshay expresses his sorrow at teen suicides as a result of academic pressures.
Asking, ‘Is an exam marksheet more valuable than your life?’, Akshay reflects on his own childhood where he failed in his exams. However, it was the support of his father who told him to focus on and pursue his own interests that enabled him to not give up hope.
Akshay is now one of Bollywood’s most successful actors and wants young people to know their achievements or performances during their academic years does not determine their life.
“I remember the day when my result was announced and I hadn’t score too well. I won’t lie – I actually failed in that class. On my way back home, I kept thinking that I’d be thrashed. That day, my father asked me what I wanted to pursue in my life. I said mai khel kood karna chaahta hoon, khiladi ban na chaahta hoon. And he said fine, concentrate on that. We’ll support you.”
India’s teen suicide rates are alarming. Just last month, the world was shocked when a 23-year-old management student jumped off the 19th floor of a hotel in Mumbai, allegedly live-streaming the incident on Facebook. His story made the headlines but there were thousands of others like him whose tragic ends did not.
In a rapidly developing India, pressures to get good grades and high-paying jobs are high. Around board exam results, the number of suicide cases are higher. Parental pressure to achieve top marks in exams added to the pressure society imposes on young people to succeed are often just too much to bear for many young people in India.
WHO statistics and studies covering global patterns of youth suicides rank India amongst the top 3, along with the US and Australia. Whereas findings from the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing found that suicide was the leading cause of death among youngsters aged 10-24 in the country, with researchers reporting that the number of youth committing suicides is close to 1 lakh every year, not including those who attempt suicide.
Akshay uploaded his video on the day he accepts a prestigious National Film Award for his performance in Rustom, hoping that his success will serve as inspiration for others. He signs off by saying that it’s important to share problems and not let them pile up in one’s mind and heart.