Konica Layak’s suicide is the fourth such case in the last four months that has forced Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra to step forward.
In September 2021, Namanveer Singh Brar, who won a bronze at the World University Games in 2015, killed himself at his residence in Mohali. In October, state-level shooter Hunardeep Singh Sohal shot himself at his residence. His family said that he was upset after he sustained an injury on his right wrist that damaged his nerves. The next to commit suicide was 17-year old Khushseerat Kaur Sandhu. On December 8th, Khushseerat, who participated in the Junior World Championships, took the final call. She was allegedly unhappy with her performance in the 64th National Shooting Championship.
The latest shooter to commit suicide was 26-year-old shooter Konica Layak who was found hanging at her residence in Bengal’s Howrah district with a suicide note. In her purported suicide note, Layak clearly mentioned the reason for taking such a drastic decision is due to her failure to live up to everyone’s expectations.
Konica made news when her struggle made headlines and it moved actor-turned-philanthropist Sonu Sood to the point that Sood gifted her a Rs 2 Lakh German rifle. In January 2021, she won a gold and a silver medal at the 11th Jharkhand State Rifle Shooting Championship. However, she failed to secure qualifications for this year’s Nationals. She got disqualified for allegedly tampering with the target at the All India GV Mavlankar Championships in Ahmedabad.
The successive suicides had startled Abhinav Bindra, the Beijing Olympics 10m Air rifle gold-winner. Bindra announced that he wanted to assist the young shooters through these tough times, with his foundation. Bindra addressed the NRAI president, Raninder Singh, in a letter saying, “I wish to offer the time and energy of my team to help the athletes, coaches, administrators, parents, and others in the sporting ecosystem in need. I hope you will accept my proposal and allow us to conduct a few virtual sessions.”
Bindra has announced that the sessions will focus solely on the awareness and mental wellness of the stakeholders, “at all levels in the ecosystem”. Bindra also mentioned that since athletes are prone to anxiety and depression they must be given a safe and conducive atmosphere where they can pursue excellence. “Our intention is to help athletes, coaches, and the rest of the sporting ecosystem begin conversations about mental health, reflect on its link to peak performance, and how they can incorporate best practices into their day-to-day lives,” said Bindra in the letter.