Kannada superstar Puneeth Rajkumar, a noble soul, an outstanding human and a brilliant actor, passed away on 29th October 2021. The demise of a young and talented actor has continued to have its after effects on his fans. People are still struggling to accept the bitter truth. So far, 10 deaths have been reported in Karnataka of fans unable to bear the loss of their favorite star. Out of this, 7 died by suicide and 3 succumbed to cardiac arrest induced by shock. Multiple cases of attempt to suicide have been reported since the day of Puneeth’s death. Puneeth Rajkumar’s older brothers Shivarajkumar and Raghavendra Rajkumar have requested fans to not take such extreme steps.
Puneeth Rajkumar was a role model. Not just on screen, but by his deeds as well. His works of philanthropy are widely discussed now. But he also set an example by pledging his eyes which were donated post his demise. Four people were benefitted by this gesture and this has encouraged hundreds of people to pledge their eyes for donation in a record rate.
On the contrary, three disturbed fans ended their lives to be able to donate eyes following their favorite star. Bharath, a fan in Tumkur has hanged himself at his residence on 3rd Nov 2021. He has left a death note where 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.”
Rajendra, a resident of Anekal, Bengaluru rural, died by suicide to be able to donate eyes like Appu. 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 31st Oct, he hanged himself at his residence.
In another incident, Venkatesh (26) a barber by profession in Channapatna of Ramanagara district died by suicide on 4th November. Family said he was extremely disturbed by the sudden death of his favorite 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 had donated their eyes to the same facility.
Dr Bhujang Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Nethralaya, said to News18 that post Puneeth’s eye donation people have been pledging their eyes in a large numbers. “Earlier, eye hospitals would see maximum 50 to 100 people willing to pledge their eyes. But in the last 3-4 days, we are getting minimum 100 applications of people pledging their eyes for donation. We have received eye donations from 14 people in last 4 days which means 28 eyes. It is difficult to get 1 or 2 eyes in a day, especially in post Covid 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.
Also, heart specialty hospitals are seeing people in large numbers wanting to get their heart checked. With rumors spreading all over that Puneeth Rajkumar had worked out rigorously at the gym before suffering a heart attack, people, especially gym-goers, are flocking to Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research even on holidays.
Dr C N Manjunath, Director, Jayadeva Hospital, told News18, “We are seeing anxious youth rushing to hospital to get their heart checked. Generally on Sundays and holidays, our OPDs are closed. But 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 1200 patients in a day on weekdays. But nowadays, we are seeing 1500 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% are gym goers. But a majority are youth for sure,” he said.
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