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It is hard to believe and digest that we are in 2021 and still struggling to destigmatize mental health issues. Ritika Phogat, a wrestler from Rajasthan who aspired to win laurels for her country in the Olympics, committed suicide on 17th March. The aspiring wrestler was the maternal sister of Geeta and Babita Phogat, wrestlers upon whom the movie Dangal was written.
According to the reports available in the public domain, just a few days before Ritika Phogat suicided, she faced a defeat in a Wrestling match. She lost the championship by a margin of only a point. The Wrestling Match was held in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. And it was chaired by Mahavir Singh Phogat, who was also the trainer of the deceased.
As per the relatives of Ritika Phogat, the dots behind her drastic step get connected to the defeat which she faced in Bharatpur.
As expected from the news channels, the insensitive reportage has started in the same manner as the suicide of Late Sushant Singh Rajput.
Various allegations and conspiracy theories have popped up, despite the ongoing status of the investigation.
What happened, and Who was Ritika Phogat?
Ritika Phogat was born and brought up at Jaitpur in the Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan. According to her family members, she dreamt of bringing a gold medal for her nation’s Olympics. Ritika Phogat was known because of her maternal sisters, Geeta and Babita Phogat.
Ritika moved to Chaksi Dadri, the native village of the Phogat sisters, to complete her wrestling training. She got coached in the academy of the Dronacharya Award recipient, Mahavir Singh Phogat.
It has been almost five years since Ritika Phogat left her home to nourish her training.
Little did anyone knew that her journey would end in such a manner. She participated in a State Level wrestling championship that was held from 12-14th March. On 14th March, Ritika Phogat got defeated by her opponent in the final round of the championship.
And on 17th March, her family members found her dead in her locked room. The concerned teams are continuing their investigations.
According to an official’s statement and common suspicions, the defeat in the championship drove Ritika Phogat to suicide.
Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat also expressed their unrepairable grief through their Twitter handles. The Phogat family also requested the citizens and media houses not to spread misinformation about the departed soul.
Such a drastic step by an upcoming talented wrestler, who belonged to an inspiring family, has left the nation in a state of dilemma.
What has changed?
Even though in our country, every year, approximately 135000 people lose the battle to their mental stress. Yet, nothing changed since the last celebrity suicide case of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Once again, several irrelevant and insensitive debates are currently running with pseudo mental health awareness campaigns. The debates and campaigns on the majority are referred to pseudo because of a particular reason.
It is so because the same persons running the campaigns run after the victims akin for their vexatious TRP and contrarily cause a mental imbalance in their lives.
That ultimately causes ordinary people suffering from mental health problems to hide their problems from the people around them.
What should change?
The tragic incident of Ritika Phogat is indeed disheartening to the masses in the country.
It is an eye-opener for both the youth and their family members and coaches. And thus, the people living in and around us should incorporate the traits discussed below.
● Acknowledgment and Acceptance of Failure: Now, this does not mean to stop putting in efforts and become a couch potato. Instead, it aims at the acceptance of the uncertainty of life.
Also, in any competition, every youth should know that failures would inevitably come in their path.
This releases an excessive burden on individuals, which results in their natural and stress-free performance.
● Availability of Counsellors to Sports Players: It is usually observed that sportspersons do not get the facility of an onboard mental health counsellor.
The case of Ritika Phogat makes us realize that being physically fit does not evaluate a stress-free life. Thus the sports players should also get proper mental-care and medications from professionals.
Physical Health vs Mental Health.
Ritika Phogat’s suicide compels us to introspect about the pace of developments in the habitual thinking patterns that still exist in our society. It has revealed the negligence of society towards mental health issues and over-emphasis on academia and individuals’ physical health.
In the mid-2000s, physical health started to receive its due recognition in the academic domain.
People slowly started realizing the importance of their physical activity for the longevity of their lives.
But in the case of mental health, that shift of mutual concern on both physical and mental health is yet to come.
Here we are not questioning the need for physical health and its benefits; the aim is to advocate for something equally important, mental health. People should know that our minds and bodywork incoherent. And the deterioration of either is harmful.
Ritika Phogat was physically fit and robust than most of her peers. But she succumbed to her mental health illness. Henceforth, the need of the hour is a mutual emphasis on mental and physical health.
Several activities like Yoga, Meditation, and Mild workouts help maintain the equilibrium between our bodies and minds.