Jiah Khan is a British Indian actress who appeared in Bollywood films and received numerous awards for some of the top-grossing films of the genre. None of the success, however, could overcome her guilt after her abortion and, in 2013, she was found dead in her apartment in her residence in the Sagar Sangeet building in Juhu, Mumbai after hanging herself.
Khan committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan at around 11:45 p.m. in a bedroom of her residence.
A 6 page suicide note was found by her sister that discussed how she planned to end her life.
“Some sections of the media and some film industry people are speculating that my daughter Jiah committed suicide because of depression related to her career,” he sisters said. “However the truth is that it happened only because of the trauma and the abuse she suffered at the hands of Suraj Pancholi and his father Aditya Pancholi. I have decided to make this letter public so that everyone may know the truth behind my daughter’s tragedy.”
Jiah’s letter to her partner Suraj Pancholi mentions the abortion and how it “hurt deeply.”
“The Goa trip was my birthday present but even after you cheated I still spent on you. I aborted our baby when it hurt me deeply. You destroyed my Christmas and my birthday dinner when I came back. When I tried my hardest to make your birthday special. You chose to be away from me on Valentines Day. You promised me once we made it to one year we would get engaged. All you want in life is partying, your women and your selfish motives.”
Now, new information has surfaced in the details surrounding Khan’s suicide that are causing a firestorm of controversy in India:
The Jiah Khan death case has been shrouded in mystery ever since the actor was found dead in her Juhu apartment in June 2013. The Nishabd actor was found hanging at her residence in Mumbai two years ago. Ever since, the case has seen several developments, the latest being the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) concluding that Jiah Khan had committed suicide.
Khan was in a relationship with Hero actor Sooraj Pancholi. A note recovered from Jiah’s apartment after her death had said how she had to undergo an abortion during the course of her relation with Pancholi.
Several gruesome details about Jiah’s pregnancy and the subsequent abortion have now emerged. The CBI filed a charge sheet yesterday (December 9), and a report in Mumbai Mirror has revealed disturbing details about the abortion.
The tabloid has quoted a source as saying that Jiah was four months pregnant when she informed her boyfriend about the same. The two visited a physician. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP), however, was not fruitful. After that, Sooraj and Jiah had gone to a gynaecologist who had prescribed stronger medicines.
The source added, “After taking the medicine, Khan started hemorrhaging and called Pancholi for help. She was in pain and needed immediate medical attention, but Pancholi allegedly asked her to wait and called up the gynaecologist for guidance. He was asked to rush Khan to hospital as the foetus had probably aborted but had not been expelled from the body, which is probably what led to the hemorrhaging.”
The incident scared Sooraj that his acting career might never see the light of the day if anyone got a whiff of the pregnancy and abortion. Pancholi, instead of taking Jiah to the hospital, extricated the foetus with his hands and disposed it off in the toilet.
The incident is said to have left Jiah emotionally shattered, and finally pushed her to kill herself.
There have been numerous studies that found an association between abortion and suicide. Other studies have found a link between abortion and depression (which is a major risk factor for suicide). For example:
A 1995 study by A.C. Gilchrist in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that in women with no history of psychiatric illness, the rate of deliberate self-harm was 70 percent higher after abortion than after childbirth.
A 1996 study in Finland by pro-choice researcher Mika Gissler in the British Medical Journal found that the suicide rate was nearly six times greater among women who aborted than among women who gave birth.
A 2002 record-linkage study of California Medicaid patients in the Southern Medical Journal, which controlled for prior mental illness, found that suicide risk was 154 percent higher among women who aborted than among those who delivered.
A March 2004 report from the U.S. National Institutes of Health revealed that suicide is now the third leading cause of death among America’s young people. In fact, for teen girls and young women, the suicide rate has tripled over the past 25 years.
Lead author Professor David Fergusson, who has described himself in interviews as a pro-choice atheist, also led the research team in a 2008 study that concluded that women who continued an unwanted or mistimed pregnancy did not experience a significant increase in mental health problems. Further, having an abortion did not reduce their mental health risks.
“In general, there is no evidence in the literature on abortion and mental health that suggests that abortion reduces the mental health risks of unwanted or mistimed pregnancy,” the authors wrote. “Although some studies have concluded that abortion has neutral effects on mental health, no study has reported that exposure to abortion reduces mental health risks.”
A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that 10 percent of mental health problems among women, including 35 percent of suicidal behaviors, may be attributable to abortion. These findings were based on the combined results of all studies published between 1995 and 2009 that met strict inclusion criteria. The resulting analysis included 877,181 women from six countries.
Women who aborted were 81 percent more likely to experience mental health problems compared to all other control groups, and 55 percent more likely to have problems compared to women who delivered an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
The increased risk of suicide following abortion has been recognized in Australia as well. The 2013 Queensland Maternal and Perinatal Quality Council report noted:
Suicide is the leading cause of death in women within 42 days after their pregnancy and between 43 days and 365 days after their pregnancy. There appears to be a significant worldwide risk of maternal suicide following termination of pregnancy and, in fact, a higher risk than that following term delivery.
The potential for depression and other mental health issues at this time needs to be better appreciated. Active follow-up of these women needs to happen. Practitioners referring women for termination of pregnancy or undertaking termination of pregnancy should ensure adequate follow-up for such women, especially if the procedure is undertaken for mental health concerns.