Only three days back on 17th, a 26-year-old postgraduate student of IIT, Mumbai died by suicide after jumping from the terrace of his hostel. He was purportedly battling depression. The police have recovered a note stating that nobody should be blamed for his action.
This reminds me of another student of Engineering at IIT, Kharagpur a few years ago, who was incidentally a son of my colleague. He and his wife were devastated. The boy was sober and intelligent. The reason for his suicide they couldn’t fathom.
The above incidents are just two examples of growing tendency of suicides among youngsters, and now among even teenagers. There may be sporadic moments of depression in the life of anybody including children, but these shouldn’t persist and take enormous proportions.
The reasons for taking extreme step may vary. A major trigger is competition in education and employment. The parents, relatives, teachers, private tutors, all put pressures in their own ways. The fear or inability to score high marks causes stress and guilt that severely affect physical, mental and emotional health.
Infatuation is another major issue. The adolescents easily fall for a GF or BF, and for some of them, the breakup is just unbearable. Parental discords, uncongenial situation, bullying, discrimination, cast slurs are other reasons.
Earlier too, I had stated that the adolescents moving from school to college are the most vulnerable lots. They treat the whole sky as their own, and any obstruction pinches them hard.
The most depressing fact is that depression among children is often not taken seriously, as we simply treat it as expression of anger or sullen mood.
Feeling low, emotional outbursts or even violence are natural outcomes. The warning signals include loneliness, social withdrawal, rebellious behaviour, substance abuse, neglect of personal hygiene and appearance, complaining nature etc.
To my mind, such a situation arises out of communication gap. There used to be an excellent rapport between grandparents and grandchildren, but now it’s rare. Meaningful interactions between parents and children, or even between husband and wife are lacking.
The best thing to do is to talk and talk, with empathy. Listen to them, hug them and encourage them to express their feelings. If children are in hostel, let’s make a point to meet them as frequently as possible and to have regular conversations with their close friends.
Don’t ask children to stand first, but to do their level best. All the achievers in the world are not necessarily top rankers. Comparisons kill their spirit and ego. Failures, if any, should be taken as stepping stone to success.
All may not become Einstein, but they certainly have the potential to become an equally renowned painter, dancer, musician, poet, author, doctor, engineer, economist and what not.
Let’s take care of our young adults as tender saplings and allow them to grow on their own, with mending, mentoring and support, whenever and wherever required.