Seven Puneeth Rajkumar fans die by suicide in Karnataka; three of them want eyes donated like idol


Fans of actor Puneeth Rajkumar are still unable to reconcile with the news of the demise of their star and some of them are taking the tragic step of dying by suicide to follow their hero in death.

Puneeth Rajkumar, described as a noble soul, outstanding human and a brilliant actor, passed away on 29 October.

Unable to bear the loss, 10 fans have died in Karnataka — seven died of suicide while three others succumbed to a cardiac arrest induced by shock. Multiple cases of attempt to commit suicide have also been reported since the passing away of Puneeth. This has prompted Puneeth’s elder brothers, Shivarajkumar and Raghavendra Rajkumar, to appeal to fans to not take such extreme steps.

Puneeth was a role model; not just on screen, but also through his deeds. His act of pledging his eyes has led to four people being benefitted and has also encouraged hundreds of others to pledge their eyes.

However, three disturbed fans have ended their lives to follow Puneeth’s example. Bharath, a fan from Tumkur, hanged himself at his house on 3 November. He left behind a suicide note in which he mentioned, “Unable to bear the pain of loss of Appu, I am going to be with him. Please donate my eyes just like him.”

In another instance, Rajendra — a resident of Anekal, Bengaluru rural — died by suicide to donate his eyes like Puneeth. He was repeatedly telling his family members that he wants to donate eyes like Puneeth Rajkumar. He was on a trip to Tirupati with his wife to celebrate their first marriage anniversary. On hearing about Puneeth Rajkumar’s sudden death, he cut short the trip and rushed home. On 31 October, he hanged himself at his residence.

In another incident, Venkatesh, (26), a barber by profession in Channapatna of Ramanagara district died by suicide on 4 November. His family said he was extremely disturbed by the sudden death of his favourite actor and hadn’t had a morsel since the day of Puneeth Rajkumar’s death. He had expressed his interest in donating eyes like Puneeth. So the family agreed to take it forward. His eyes were harvested by doctors in Channapatna General Hospital and sent to Dr Rajkumar eye bank in Narayana Nethralaya, Bengaluru.

Puneeth Rajkumar and his father Dr Rajkumar both donated their eyes to the same facility.

Dr Bhujang Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Nethralaya said that post Puneeth’s eye donation people have been pledging their eyes in a very large number. “Earlier, eye hospitals would see maximum 50 to 100 people willing to pledge their eyes. But in the last three-four days, we are getting minimum 100 applications of people pledging their eyes for donation. We have received eye donations from 14 people in last four days which means 28 eyes. It is difficult to get one or two eyes in a day especially post-coronavirus scenario. But this sudden spike in number of donations is a record in itself,” he said.

This number is just in one eye bank (Dr Rajkumar eye bank, Narayana Nethralaya, Bengaluru). Several eye banks across the state have seen a spike in number of applications.

Moreover, heart specialty hospitals have also seen a large number of people wanting to get their hearts checked. With rumours spreading that Puneeth Rajkumar had worked out rigorously at gym before suffering a heart attack, people, especially gym-goers, are seen flocking at Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research even on holidays.

Dr C N Manjunath, Director, Jayadeva Hospital said, “We are seeing anxious youth rushing to hospital to get their heart checked. Generally, on Sundays and holidays, our OPDs are closed. But the emergency department will be functional. We see maximum 150 patients on holidays. But this Sunday and Monday (which was a state holiday on account of Kannada Rajyotsava) we saw 550 out patients.

“At Jayadeva Hospital in Bengaluru, we see 1,200 patients in a day on weekdays. But nowadays, we are seeing 1,500 patients by noon itself which increases by the end of the day. Same is the situation in our Mysore hospital as well. But let this not be a knee jerk reaction. People should get their blood glucose, cholesterol checked annually. Also get a treadmill ECG done.

"The panic in public is understandable. A young man who was all healthy, maintained disciplined lifestyle, never had any ailment, used to be physically active dies by a sudden heart attack and people are anxious. But let us just be aware and careful. Out of all the patients we are seeing now, there are few who have come for follow ups, around 25-30 percent are gym goers. But a majority are youth for sure” he said.

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Seven Puneeth Rajkumar fans die by suicide in Karnataka; three of them want eyes donated like idol
Seven Puneeth Rajkumar fans die by suicide in Karnataka; three of them want eyes donated like idol
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