Mental health support crucial for students: Experts on suicides

Suicide is related to mental health, but it is not just an impulsive decision. It depends on past depressive elements and the kind of mental health support received.
Representative image
Representative image

CHENNAI: Incidents of student suicides related to board exam results, NEET and different other causes have raised concerns over the incidence leading to suicides. However, psychologists say that suicides cannot be attributed to just one factor because there are multifactorial causes.

Suicide is related to mental health, but it is not just an impulsive decision. It depends on past depressive elements and the kind of mental health support received.

"Copycat suicides are a phenomenon that has been existing for a long time and research says there suicide of a popular person can influence others. Young people are indeed vulnerable. During adolescence, especially in stages of transition, when a person who has experienced trauma, can be more vulnerable. People going through depression might have such contemplation. so it is important for everyone to be careful while reporting or talking about suicide," says Vandhana, a clinical psychologist at V-Cope, Center for Psychological Effectiveness.

"Media should also talk about the prevention of such incidents while protecting the identity of the student. Politicising these incidents should be avoided. We need to have mental health programmes at schools and it is good that the government is looking at counselling and supporting these students," she adds.

Experts say that certain guidelines should be followed while talking about suicides on any media platform, including the jargon, graphics, and certain phrases. There needs to be more reassurance and available support through the helplines should be often highlighted, they say.

Emphasising the role of parents in providing mental health support to children, mental health experts say that their response is significant.

"Inhouse counsellors are a part of almost every academic institution. However, young adolescents are hesitant to talk about the stigma they experience with a near stranger. Additionally, it depends on how the parents perceive and respond to suicides. Parents behaving in a positive, inclusive way and acting sensitive to suicides and mental health issues, may encourage the young adolescents to be open with them," says Dr V Mithun Prasad, Psychiatrist, SIMS Hospital.

"On the institution's front, organising activities on mental health would enable students to reach out sooner. Preventative measures implemented in the wake of a sensational suicide case must be stepped up with the anticipation of copycat suicides," added Dr Mithun.

Meanwhile, students have also been reaching out to the 104 health helpline and talking about mental health concerns.

"We have reached out to all the government school students and made outbound calls talking to them about their studies and examinations. They are hesitant to directly talk about their mental health so we are trying to identify the students who are showing certain signs and symptoms of vulnerability. We are going to follow up on these and as the NEET results come, we will do another phase of counselling," says Saravanan, a nodal officer at 104 helplines.

Suicide helpline number: 9152987821

(With inputs from Amirtha Varushini S)

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