16-year-old queer child Pranshu dies by suicide due to bullying; Did we fail as a society? Mental health expert opines
After 16-year-old queer artist died by suicide due to bullying, we spoke to a mental health expert and a member from the LGBTQIA+ community to weigh in.
A self taught 16-year-olf queer child Pranshu Yadav died by suicide on November 21, Tuesday. The class 10 boy, studying in Ujjain Public School, Madhya Pradesh, used to share makeup-related posts and reels on Instagram since the COVID-19 pandemic. Pranshu had a good amount of followers on their Instagram handle glamitupwithpranshu. Their mobile phone has now been seized by the police and more information will be obtained from Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Around Diwali, they shared a reel of them wearing a saree on the social media platform, after which people dropped hateful and homophobic comments in the comments section. Yes, We Exist, an LGBTQIA+ rights advocacy collective highlighted how the child was attempting to build a career as a makeup artist, and claimed that they received over 4,000 homophobic and hateful comments on the reel, leading to the suicide.
Preeti Yadav (44), Pranshu’s mother, told The Quint, “Why is no attention being paid to the fact that a 16-year-old faced hate comments online for doing something they not only loved, but were also good at? This negativity needs to be checked and curtailed.”
“My child was supremely talented. They did nothing wrong. I am proud of them. Usually, it’s in class 9 when children tell their parents they want to be engineers, architects, etc. But Pranshu came and told me they wanted to be a makeup artist. At first, I was a bit surprised, but when I looked at their work I was in awe. That day I asked them to follow their dream,” she added.
She further elaborated that they drew inspiration from American YouTuber and makeup artist James Charles, and “wanted to be just like him.” “Every child is unique, and I accepted my child the way they were. I would have always stood by them. I wish they would have given me that chance.”
Actor-activist Trineta Haldar Gummaraju claimed that the comments section of the reel was flooded with over 4,000 homophobic remarks, forcing Pranshu to die by suicide. Trans activist-actor Sushant Divgikar is "heartbroken" about the devastating news, as she says, "I knew them. They used to comment on some of my posts. I couldn't believe it initially, it was so heartbreaking. I haven't been able to mourn properly, because anger has taken over grief. I am tired, I myself have been dealing with this since 17 years. This should be a wakeup call, how many kids are we going to lose? If you are okay with a child losing their life, then there is systematically something wrong with you. We as a society should collectively feel ashamed of ourselves. Moreover, there should be strict policies on social media for cyber crime."
Addressing the issue to suggest a solution, Dr. Gorav Gupta, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Tulasi Healthcare, New Delhi, says, "It is necessary for an individual coming from LGBTQ community to reply with a sense of confidence as well as kindness. Do not argue but teach calmly. Provide your understanding of the situation. Use humour to ease off the hostile nature and if you feel like it, block or mute the troll. Be part of positive environments that uplift your mental health."
"Being trolled is often linked to increased feelings of depression, anxiety and loneliness. Suicides are usually complicated and involve several causes at least. Everyone should therefore foster conversation, give comfort, and make public health facilities available for persons at various points in their life," he adds.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, or want to help a friend in need, someone is always there for counselling. You can call Sneha Foundation - 04424640050 (available 24x7) or Lifeline Foundation - 9088030303 (available 24×7).