With the recent spread of the news of a young actor committing suicide, we are seeing mental health awareness dialogue being conducted and its need at the moment everywhere. The incident has not only influenced children but also parents. We often see kids replicating film stars. After this incident also, few children committed suicide. They said, ‘If he can, we can’. Another similar case was the spread of ‘Blue Whale Challenge’, an online game that provoked kids to practice self-harm activities in the beginning and end their lives as the last challenge. The increase in the spread of such problems these days makes it more necessary for us to take care of children now than ever. Thus, as responsible citizens of the society, we must do something to prevent next generation from getting influenced by such things. Now the question that arises here is, how can we do that? Let’s have a look. Suicide is the act of intentionally ending one’s life. According to WHO (World Health Organisation), one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide. Other statistics reveal that suicide is among the top three reasons for the death of young people between the age group of 15 to 34. This toll represents the deteriorated mental health condition of our society. It is heartbreaking to know that there are people in our surroundings, who are hopeless or frustrated to such an extent that ending their lives may seem like the only viable option to them.
The need to talk about suicide prevention at home with children.
With all the chaos surrounding us these days, it becomes necessary for parents to keep a check on their kids. Along with the increasing complexity of lives, the burden on kids is also increasing. The increasing burden calls for more attention and moral support from the parents. Suicide is a result of mental disturbances more than physical ones. Thus, it becomes vital to speak to children at home about issues such as suicide. Right from the initial stages where the child’s mental development starts taking place, changes can be made. Mental Health Awareness begins at home. A comfortable scenario should be made at home so that children or teens feel the safest there. Children should be allowed to talk about whatever goes on in their heads. They should be able to feel comfortable while discussing their problems, even the most trivial ones with their parents. They should also feel loved and wanted. They should feel heard and respected. Little changes made at the right time go a long way.
The following things can be done to create a safe space to talk about mental health issues at home for children
- Parents should make sure they listen to their kid’s problems or identify them in cases they’re not able to speak up.
- Keeping a check on their activities.
- Keeping an eye on the people they meet or interact with on the Internet and in real life.
- Making them feel comfortable about being able to discuss anything and everything.
- Trying to become friends with them.
- Observing the effects of changing scenarios on children.
- Not over-burdening them with our own expectations.
- Allowing them to be themselves and appreciating even the smallest of achievements.
- Creatively modifying their perspectives and ideologies.
- Spending quality time with kids.
- Knowing topics that are bothering children in general.
- Asking them about their day and keeping a check on their screen time.
- Helping them develop and indulge in a hobby like singing, dancing, painting or reading.
- Avoiding unhealthy criticism or making derogatory remarks.
Warning signs of developing suicidal tendencies in children
Teen suicide is an social issue on the rise these days. Teenagers are more becoming more prone to committing self-harm activities as a result of media influence and other such factors. Some may even feel exhausted or overburdened by studies given the cut-throat competition they’re being exposed to at a very young age. Peer pressure might also act as a strong, negative force especially in this age. Thus, it becomes extremely necessary for us to pay attention to warning signs or suicidal behavior. Attention towards such signs would be a major preventive measure.
Some common warning signs seen in teens are:
- Suicidal Ideation (Thinking, Writing, Speaking, or Drawing related to suicide, death, afterlife, etc).
- Extreme hopelessness towards life.
- Low performance in academics or extra-curricular activities.
- A drastic change in personalities.
- Extreme mood swings.
- Risk-taking behaviors.
- Lack of interest in favorite activities or almost everything.
- Severe anxiety, stress, or guilt.
How can we help a child who is exhibiting signs of suicidal behavior?
Lack of support, love, and comfort at home provokes kids to go out and seek validation or comfort outside at times on the Internet and there’s no way of knowing where they might end up in that case. The world is ful of predators waiting for innocent, vulnerable children, who are at their lowest, to come their way. In this way, most of the time, kids might end up in the wrong place or in the company of wrong people. Lack of adequate knowledge at such a tender age becomes a reason for their exploitation. At times, we get too late in noticing these signs. All these result in serious consequences, most of the time in the loss of life or life long battle with mental illnesses. Thus, it is important to recognize these warning signs at an early stage and help children deal with it.
This can be done in the following ways:
- Talking openly about social issues
- Making the home a mental health friendly space
- Expressing proper concern
- Spending extra time with them
- Removing objects of harm causing tendencies such as drugs, guns, knives, etc
- Encouraging them to talk about their problems
- Not demoralising them
- Seeking immediate help from counselors, suicide prevention helplines, psychiatrists etc if need be
Mental Health plays an important role in determining the physical health conditions of children. If parents take care of their kid’s mental health right from the beginning, a lot of problems can be minimized. Along with that, teenage is a tender age where kids are prone to get influenced by certain things. This is because of the hormonal changes and is normal. These things are a part of life and will always be there. What we need to do is, make children more aware of them and their consequences. As elders, we can do our part by giving them the required knowledge at the right time. Thus, the only and the most appropriate way to protect children is by taking precautions beforehand, after all, prevention is always better than cure!
Suicide prevention helplines:
- Aasra (Mumbai) 022-27546669
- Sneha (Chennai) 044-24640050,
- Sumaitri (Delhi) 011-23389090
- Cooj (Goa) 0832- 2252525
- Jeevan (Jamshedpur) 065-76453841
- Pratheeksha (Kochi) 048-42448830
- Maithri (Kochi) 0484-2540530
- Roshni (Hyderabad) 040-66202000,
- Lifeline 033-64643267 (Kolkata).
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