Looking Back At Nafisa Joseph’s Tragic Death And How We Can Fight Suicidal Thoughts

Posted by Rimli Bhattacharya in Mental Health
November 20, 2017

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I won the crown for what I am – I’m certainly not going to let go of that

– Nafisa Joseph

The winner of Femina Miss India pageant in 1997, Nafia Joseph ended her life in 2004 when she hanged herself in her Versova apartment on July 29.

Nafisa was only 26 and she chose death. She was the daughter of Usha Joseph who is a scion of Tagore’s family. A medley of Christian and Islam Nafisa quit the theatre of life leaving behind her aggrieved parents and her siblings.

A student of the famous Bishop Cotton Girl’s School, who started modelling at 12, she was the youngest contestant in the Miss India Pageant. For a period of five years, she hosted the MTV House Full show. She also featured in a short role in Subhash Ghai’s film Taal. In her short span of life she achieved so much, still, the question remains, why did she die?

We all need love, we look for love, she too looked for it but sadly knocked the wrong door. Reports state that she was engaged to a man who had told her that he was divorced but was still married. Two weeks before they were to be married, the wedding was called off, and then she killed herself.


Her fiancé was called in by the police, there were routine investigations, her parents lodged a complaint but the question still remains – is it worth taking your life just for a relationship which went wrong? No, not all.

The first step that comes into the picture is parenting. Right from childhood, it’s the parents’ duty to groom the child, make them understand self-worth.  Self-esteem develops early, and it’s these life lessons, not degrees or grades and subjects that need to be taught.

To explain how to develop self-esteem, Postive Psychology Program writes, The practice self-acceptance includes becoming aware and accepting the best and the worst parts of you and also the disowned parts of ourselves. The self-responsibility […]. The practice of self-assertiveness. Act through your real convictions and feelings as much as possible. The practice of living purposefully. Achieve personal goals that energize your existence. The practice of personal integrity. Don’t compensate your ideals, beliefs, and behaviors for a result that leads to incongruence. When your behaviors are congruent with your ideals that is where integrity appears”.

But the above points on self-esteem will come into picture only after proper parenting. On the importance of parenting,  reports Greater Good magazine reports, “Parents should provide continual warmth, caring, and support; […] Strong social and emotional skills; […] Positive peer relationship; and also work to change school environment.”

We do fall in love and it’s not a crime to love someone. Relationships do matter, we need love. But one must figure out the right versus the wrong. Love someone who doesn’t keep you a secret, if a relationship has to be a secret you shouldn’t be in it.

Melanie Greenberg sites four reasons for failing relationship in Psychology Today: “Selfishness, Narcissism and unbalanced ties; Not making the relationship a priority; Angry Outbursts and Rage; Infidelity”. Be cautious, in that moment of love you are bound to ignore all the other elements, this is where self-esteem comes in the picture – understanding right versus wrong.

On love and relationship, Psychology Today reports: “Love is one of the most profound emotions known to human beings. There are many kinds of love, but most people seek its expression in a romantic relationship with a compatible partner. For some, romantic relationships are the most meaningful element of life, providing a source of deep fulfillment. The ability to have a healthy, loving relationship is not innate. A great deal of evidence suggests that the ability to form a stable relationship begins in infancy, in a child’s earliest experiences with a caregiver who reliably meets the infant’s needs for food, care, protection, stimulation, and social contact. Those relationships are not destiny, but they appear to establish patterns of relating to others. Failed relationships happen for many reasons, and the failure of a relationship is often a source of great psychological anguish. Most of us have to work consciously to master the skills necessary to make them flourish”.

The last but not the least, the devil called SUICIDE. If you go to your psyche level and peel off the layers of your mind one by one you can understand the damage you are going to do – That is to end your life.

The American Psychiatric Association says,  In some cases, an immediate stressor or sudden catastrophic event, failure or humiliation like a relationship break-up, legal problems, financial problems (e.g., home foreclosure or job loss) can leave people feeling desperate, unable to see a way out, and become a “tipping point” toward suicide. If someone indicates they are considering suicide, listen and take their concerns seriously. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their plans. Let them know you care, and they are not alone. Encourage them to seek help immediately from a knowledgeable professional. Don’t leave them alone”.

My essay started with the narration of the beautiful, young, successful model, Video Jockey, and winner of Femina Miss India, who had so much to give to this world, yet took her life but I earmarked some other factors as well – Parenting, Self – Esteem, Relationship, and Love.

To conclude this essay here is my appeal, do not take your life. Sometimes the worst place you can be in is your head. To that one soul who is reading this – I know you’re tired, you’re fed up, you’re close to breaking, but there’s strength within you, even when you feel weak, take rest but keep fighting. I know you are afraid of your mind, but no harm, open up, keep fighting. The bravest thing you can do is continuing life when you want to die.

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