As I opened the City supplement of the Newspaper the headline caught my eye “Suicide by a 14 year old girl”; another innocent life lost. Loss of life for any reason always pains. Suicide, specially by the youth/ students, is increasing every year. As per available statistics one students commits suicide in India every one hour; this is alarming. This trend of the youth ending life through suicides needs to be arrested. Efforts are required at all levels, specially in the schools and homes. It’s the proactive actions by the triad of parents, children and the teacher which will go a long way in reducing the suicides.
The reasons for suicides are well known, the problem is that no concrete efforts are being made to prevent deaths by suicides. Main reasons forcing a child / student taking his own life are broken families, lack of emotional support, family/ peer pressure to perform in exams/ competitions, failure to perform well in exams, comparison with others, being forced to follow a particular education stream against the will, public shame/ humiliation over and over again, perceived lack of freedom, body shame, rape, substance abuse and off course love affair/ infatuation.
Most of the students of higher classes I have had the opportunity to interact with, make a mention of lack of personal time. Life of a student, specially in cities, is a set routine oscillating between schools and coaching centers. Once at home there is pressure for self-study. They hardly get time to spend with friends or on themselves. Whatever little time left, is generally occupied by the mobile phones; chatting with friends, movies or songs. The time spent with the mobile is not liked by the parents/ elders and often becomes a cause of friction.
At homes and schools both, the child is being told what to do. There is hardly any freedom of thought granted. The child starts to feel suffocated and may break down.
Family time is supposed to be quality time. The reality is that during week days a family hardly spends time together. Even the meals are taken individually. The family usually comes under the same roof not before late night, by then they all are too tired to spend quality time as a family. This is a major cause of concern. The child then tries to find solace in company of friends/ outsiders, real or virtual. Family time was a major platform of learning through which family values and traditions were being passed from one generation to other.
Parents have to give time to the child. Whenever the child approaches he has to be entertained; he can’t be sent off, every time, citing reasons of professional business. Profession, friends, television and telephone cannot take precedence over the child. If parents don’t give time to the child he will slowly drift away due to feeling of neglect and by the time the parents realise it, the harm to relationship would have been already caused.
Breakdown of communication is the major cause of suicides. Anyone will generally take the extreme step of ending his/ her life when they find no help coming. Most serious of the issues can be resolved through talks. The mind should not be left free to drift into negativity. The type of communication made also matters; a child cannot be repeatedly admonished for or be time and again reminded of a mistake he has once made. The child should never get a feeling of loneliness at his own home; no one having time to listen to him. Many of us are very fond of locking up young kids in their rooms or taking away their mobiles to teach them a lesson. The child is just being pushed away from you by such actions. Fear doesn’t work after an age; you may only create a rebel or a recluse. Convincing, not punishing, is the way forward.
There are kids who are quiet by nature but there are many who become reserved due to the prevalent environment at home but unfortunately the parents accept it as a natural behavior. Read these behavioral changes and take remedial measures in time. Communication should never be allowed to break down between the parent and child.
“Mobile chat’ time….
Many a suicide in case of girls have been attempted after they were supposedly caught by the parents/ elders talking with a boy(friend), specially at night. They were humiliated, insulted, may be thrashed, locked and some of these girls end up attempting suicide. The main problem is that we as parents have all the issues with the girls while boys do not face such restrictions. Do not keep doubting the child and stop communication. Mobile was invented to facilitate communication not to kill it. Keep your lines of communication open with your child. If parents do not understand the child, who else will?
It is the prime responsibility of the parents, elders and teachers to ensure all round mental development of the child. The child should never get a feeling of loneliness. It should be ingrained in their mind that help is always at hand for any problems. If the child doesn’t want to share with parents he/ she should be able to find a friend in a teacher or a relation and feel free to discuss with them.
Role of Schools….
A child spends a substantial part of the day in the school under observation of teachers and friends. Any unusual change in the behavior should be noted and brought to the notice of the parents. Attempts should be made by teachers to ascertain the reasons from the child without raising a storm over it. Herein comes the roles of professional counsellors. Most of our schools today lack professional counsellors. Availability of counsellors should be made compulsory in schools as a policy. Mental health should be made part of the syllabi so that students understand it and can seek timely help.
Parents should not hesitate to arrange professional help for the child undergoing depression for any reason. A professional counsellor or a psychiatrist may understand the problems better and give the right solution. Seeking a psychological help should not be taken as a social stigma. Its for the district administration to ensure availability of the counsellors in adequate numbers.
Suicide is not an answer to any problem. The person may die but leave behind parents, relations and friends to suffer the pain of loss life long.