Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Suicidal Tendencies in Children - A Perspective.

Taking my discussion, on this new challenge in our society, further, I thought it necessary to examine this phenomenon a little further. This development has its roots, amongst others, in the rapid change our society has undergone and how our lives have changed on the last two decades.

This period is most relevant as the children opting for suicide were born during this time.We may have made tremendous strides in making more money or ensuring a mobile phone for one out of every  two Indians, expanding economic opportunities or have improved our so-called "standards of living". However, in this race, we seem to achieved whatever at a very high cost. The moot question is whether, we as  a society have regressed.

It seems that the stakes have suddenly been upped and it appears that in this life's race, the winner takes it all.
Everybody loves winners and there is a certain glamour attached to these "success stories". Media also does it bit by highlighting crazy placement salaries of a few students from premier engineering and management institutes. All this raises expectations of both students and parents.

Whilst this is not the case in reality, we often fail to recognise that there is no free lunch  in life. Each one has to always pay a price and often that is not visible. It is good to aspire and work hard towards one goal and there is absolutely no harm in that. One does not plan to fail but what happens if  the student,  inspite of best  efforts, is unable to get through. It is at this stage emotional balance of both parents and their children is called into play.

That failure in an exam is not a measure of that child's worth should be understood and clearly communicated and demonstrated through thoughts, words and deeds. That failure is not the end of life and instead can be  a stepping stone for renewed efforts should be drilled in no uncertain terms.

Most students are not suicidal but it is impossible to predict who could be overwhelmed at any point of time and who would take steps towards the edge.

It is possible for a child to equip itself against the uncertainties of life and attain a semblance of emotional balance if their education process begins early - both at home and in school. This pre-supposes that our teachers have the right approach and training and parents have the maturity to be mentors, friends and of course de-stressed parents.

Is this expecting too much???  Can we achieve this state??? If yes, then what needs to be done??? Is this over simplification of the problem??? Do we understand the compulsions of those for whom good education is a passport to a better life away from their daily drudgery???

There are many unanswered questions. It is important that these are discussed in public domain and there is awareness. It may help someone.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Children Commiting Suicide - A New Challenge

All of a sudden newspapers are full of reports about children, mostly teens and young adults taking their own lives. I am not sure whether this was a regular occurance earlier and it is only now this is getting prominence, or this is a new problem which we as a society are facing.

The reasons for commiting suicide vary from the predictable to the bizzare. One has heard of teens taking their lives due to failure in exams, or rejection in love but suicide on grounds of loneliness, lack of preparation for exams, not being permitted to learn dancing...are certainly new and confounding. One suicide case certainly bordered on the bizzare. The child wanted to meet and be close to her deceased father.

Every loss of a young life is tragic and shatters the family involved. Life moves on and the family would eventually get on with their lives and time the great healer will fill these wounds. The question here is why does this happen?

Let me try and understand our existing circumstances and put things in perspective. I cannot claim deep understanding of teen affairs but I base my understanding on my observations of my daughters and their friends. I would ike to believe that this would be as contemporary as it gets.

I would believe that parents have a critical role to play. Grand-parents, cousins, uncles/ aunts and immediate  circle of relatives form an important protective and supportive circle around. Friends are an important  social support system. Apart from these teachers do also play an important role.

One clear advantage of having an active social network of relatives and friends is the emotional support that one can draw from them. A sharp rebuke or a scolding from a  teacher is eased by parents or friends. Hurt after a fight with a sibling can be balmed by a friend or relative and so on. The funny part is we draw on this well of comfort / support all the time but never realise it.

A teen yet to fully develop emotional balance gets the comfort and strength to face many such reverses of life. This "on-demand" availability of the "soft touch" so to say has helped many a teen (including us back then) in handling the various pains of growing up.

It is time we acknowledge that many children in our society do not have an adequate support system around them. This may be a result of many factors but modern life is certainly a big contributor. Let me try and present gaps that have developed in our lives and the dangers they pose.

I would like my blogger friends ti share their their thoughts on what they think about this new problem surfacing in our lives.