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Monday, September 5, 2016

To commemorate World Suicide Prevention Day Sept 10th, Aasra Director Johnson Thomas answers questions on youth Suicides

1. What are the latest trends that you see with regards to suicides in India? Does the youth form a major part of it?Would you say that there is a rise in youth suicides in recent times? Suicides among youth(students mainly) have jumped to about 4 times the normal rate in the past decade. Family problems were blamed for 24 pc of the suicides, illness for 19.6 pc, drug abuse for 3.4 pc and love affairs for 3.3 pc( as per NCRB data). Even in Kota, the entry level coaching education hub for a seat in a professional course post 12th , there have been a spate of suicides in the recent past touching around 35-40 suicides in a matter of a few months. This is unprecedented. It's also said that for every suicide that has been reported there are at least 8 to 16 attempts ( not leading to death) that go unreported. Add to that the rising graph of farmer suicides So the suicide problem is huge. As per the International Association for Suicide Prevention and WHO the high risk group for suicide (all over the world) is the 15 to 34 age group. So you can see that youth form the major suicide trend in India and the world.

2. Generally speaking, what drives the youth to suicide? Briefly, what factors contribute towards this rise? We are a country in transition because of globalisation. As a result our desires and wants have increased so quickly that society ( both socially and culturally) has been unable to prepare us for accepting that change with grace. Our protective systems like the joint family system, social set-ups, family bonding, interpersonal interactions and our dependence on religion have all been affected by our greater reliance on technology and communication machines. The cognitive development of today's generation has been hampered by materialism, instant gratification and reliance on multiple medias.Also our parenting patterns have changed for the worst. Aspirations have taken centre stage and parents are much more interested in giving their children all the benefits that they themselves were denied without really teaching their kids how to face denial and rejection in a healthy manner. So kids or youth of today have become instant consumers who prefer to achieve all their hearts desire without working hard enough for the eventual prize. or even if they work hard it's only for short spells. They are unable to sustain consistency or deal with pressure situations and lack all round resilience. This results in them opting for suicide whenever they face crisis situations

3. Is there a corresponding rise in conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety? When the resilience itself is missing then obviously conditions like ADHD, stress, depression , anxiety, and suicidal ideation come to the fore.

4. Do you think there is suddenly a rise in undue pressure on students for better academic and career performance, or is this a myth propagated by media/students? As I mentioned in my previous answer there is a rise in the level of expectations from parents and peer pressure also plays an important role here. This is an aspirational generation with parents wanting their kids to achieve levels of success that they themselves couldn't . So the pressure to perform is high and totally impractical. It's not dependent on individual capacities but on generic capabilities.

5. Why are students opting to end their lives instead of dealing with their problems? Can we compare this with the past, say 30-40 years back? Is there any difference in the way students dealt with pressure back then? The rise in population, the rise in expectations, a more open and accessible world because of globalisation, increasing access to information has increased performance pressure on students to such an extent that their individual capacities are unable to cope with it. This makes the situation precarious especially since they are competing with a huge number of peers for the coveted professional courses they aim for( medicine, engineering etc). Students begin to believe that their lives are at an end because they havn't been able to achieve what they set out to do or what their parents expect them to do. Their self esteem is at a low and they begin to believe they are of little value to their parents and the world at large. They think it would be better for their parents if they end their lives. They believe that at least then their parents won't have to face the humiliation of their son or daughter not achieving the levels of success that the relatives, kids, or friends kids or neighbors's kids have managed to achieve. 30-40 years ago we had the joint family system providing support and caring to every member of the family. Nuclear families were not the norm then. And one parent was usually at home taking care of the family's emotional needs. Today parents are just too busy working( such are the pressures of modern work life)and living their own lives to pay attention to their child's emotional development.

6. How can society ensure that more young people don't commit suicide? Society must look within for answers. We are all members of the society and it must become our responsibility to encourage children to develop their skill sets as per their individual abilities rather than a generic absolute being thrust upon them. Parents must guide their children through rough patches, be their sounding board and develop capacities to listen to their problems even if it's something they wouldn't want to hear from their kids. They need to spend more time teaching their children to communicate on a one-on-one basis , openly and without fear so that issues could be cleared up immediately instead of allowing them to pile up and create so much tension that they child prefers to kill himself or herself rather than speak about it to his /her parents. There must be a simultaneous change in the manner in which the education system is structured. Individual capabilities and not marks/grades or capitation fees should be the yardstick for selection to courses. Also other professional courses should be given equal weightage during career counselling sessions


Xương Rồng said...

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