On June 14, Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling. An FIR was filed against his girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty under charges of abetment to suicide.

As a mental health practitioner, I work closely with people suffering from anxiety, depression and difficulties in functioning in life. When I read about this FIR which claims that another human being should be held responsible for someone taking their own lives, I believed it was important to share my views on it.

The word ‘abet’ means to help or encourage someone to do some wrong doing for example someone aiding and abetting a crime, deception, some harmful act etc. The law holds the one aiding and abetting responsible and persecutes them as if that person had committed the actual crime.

A person is guilty of abetment to suicide if he provokes someone to commit suicide, is part of some conspiracy to commit it or intentionally helps the victim to commit suicide by doing an act or by not doing something that he was bound to do.

There is law that investigates abetment to suicide and in many countries like India, there is punishment of up to 10 years of imprisonment for doing it.

In my humble view unless someone functionally supports a person in taking their own lives like providing a gun, or getting medication like sleeping pills, holding another person responsible for psychologically encouraging suicide is wrong at many levels and makes me question what being an adult means for us. An adult is characterised as someone who is personally responsible for leading his life on his own and taking ownership of his life choices.

Holding another person responsible for an adult life’s choices is wrong. The word ‘committed’ means bound to a certain course and someone who ‘commits’ suicide is alone responsible for the pledge he makes to end his life.

Here an argument can be that certain life situations, which are severe because of people, can be a motivating factor to end one’s life. For example, an abusive husband may drive his wife to end her life to save herself from daily torture. Sure, hold the man responsible for being physically abusive, but can we persecute him for driving her to suicide? No. Even if we claim she has no option, there is always an option. At the risk of sounding callous, one can question the wife’s decision of not walking away the first time when it happened.

Suicide isn’t a simple reality. It’s an internal state of mind triggered by either external factors or a dark internal state exacerbated by depression or trauma etc. Also, it’s an act rarely committed in an impulsive moment. It might start with a fleeting thought of ‘what is the point of living’ to thinking how to act on that thought to actually going ahead and doing it. That fleeting thought might become a recurring thought for many reasons. It definitely can be because of a toxic person in your life or it can be as casual as knowing someone who did it. But at the end of the day, how often have you heard of someone ending their life with another person around them? In that final act, it’s the person who is alone and solely responsible for choosing to die than to live.

Here I want to emphasise that I do not blame the one who has to resort to such a terminal act. But I also believe no one else can be blamed for aiding that act. Also, everything in life is co-created and relationships more than ever, take two to tango.

Someone on the outside cannot understand the relational dynamic between two people. For example, if there is a toxic relationship and one person looks like the persecutor, my question is, what stops the victim from saying no to it?

We alone are responsible for our lives. “We cannot solve our problems except by solving them,” from The Road Less Travelled. We avoid taking responsibility for our choices, as sometimes those choices can be grossly painful. So we allow others to choose less painful realities for us. Being an adult isn’t simply being physically grown and developed but internally as well, and internal growth is a lifelong process unlike the physical one. But standing on the starting line you have to take ownership of knowing that you are running this race of life for yourself and you alone are responsible for winning or losing it.