Students suicide cases, a complex phenomenon

Going by the media reports, there seems to be a spurt in the number of cases of suicides by school and college students. Earlier, such instances used to occur around the time of examinations or coincide with admissions. Now, they seem to occur at any time of the year.
Students suicide cases, a complex phenomenon
Dr. R Thara


Clearly, this is a reflection of the stress faced by  teachers, school management  and students. It appears that teachers are probably not aware of or not informed about the state of mind of the students . Some of them could be unresponsive to cries of help. Admonition of students in front of their peers or family can often cause a deep hurt and a sense of shame in youngsters. 
While it is true that many students  go through a lot of inner turmoil, it also appears that  their threshold level for tolerating disappointment has gone down, when compared to previous generations. Coping with failure seems an impossible task and they are not prepared to consider options which are many now.  This indeed is an unhealthy trend. They should resolve conflicts with their faculty, families  or peers, without resorting to the extreme step of self-harm. 
I would urge the students to open up and share their feelings with close friends or someone in the family who will understand what they are up against. There are many who are ready too listen and help. Most colleges are now appreciative of the need for a person who will simply listen to a student, and help him/her resolve the issue. If it is a problem of academics, there are a number staff members who can hear out a student. In fact, a number of us working in the area of mental health have interacted with educational institutions on the importance of a mental health strategy. These include advisories on coping with stress, tackling the pressure points, etc. There are always friends one can call, who would willingly listen and help defuse the stress levels. Some students are using the social media to post their final messages before attempting suicide. They can talk to their friends and well-wishers instead. 
There is no single factor that triggers thoughts of suicide, rather it is complex phenomenon. If a youngster demands a two-wheeler and if his father refuses to buy him one, that should not be a reason to attempt suicide. Many youngsters have a sense of entitlement and some parents, knowingly or unknowingly, inculcate such a feeling in their children, which is not a  healthy thing to do. Students should learn to face failures in life.
The media also has a role to play. The frequent reporting and sometimes sensationalising suicides of youth may give an impression that it is a common event. There are strict guidelines on reporting suicides, which are not always adhered to. This is where parents and friends have to play a guiding role. 
We need more helplines established either by the states or NGOs and more mental health awareness in schools and colleges. Teachers need to be trained to detect early signs of stress and to deal with it. SCARF is embarking on a large scale Youth Mental Health programme, which will work towards this. 
— The writer is Director, SCARF

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