BENGALURU: The case of a 14-year old Bengaluru boy committing suicide as he was upset over not getting elected as class leader on Tuesday is not unusual. Only a couple of days earlier, another 14-year-old boy sought to end his life by consuming insecticide. Reason: he was distraught over his poor score in a class test. The boy is now recovering in the ICU of a city hospital.

The boy had not shared his low maths score with his parents. “He comes from an upper middle-class family where parents are concerned about children’s . Schools nowadays want only bright students, which is making parents force children to study hard. The end result is that these children fail to bear the pressure most of the times,” said doctors treating the boy.

Dr Vyjayanthi S, associate professor of , M S Ramaiah Medical College Hospital, recalled the case of a 13-year-old girl who attempted suicide after being bullied by her brother’s friends last year. “The girl had sent a Diwali greeting message from her mobile phone to her elder brother’s friend, a boy aged around 20. The boy’s friends got to know about this and began bullying the girl over the matter. The girl’s brother was enraged and questioned her. The girl felt humiliated for no fault of hers and attempted suicide by consuming 30 antiepileptic tablets used by her mother. She survived after a prolonged battle and had to be counselled,” says Dr Vyjayanthi.

Teen suicides are not new to Europe and the US, but are being seen in India only now, she says.

According to Dr K John Vijay Sagar, additional professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans), 10-15 of the 100 adolescents seeking treatment at Nimhans show a range of suicidal tendencies. “Suicide attempts by teens is not seen as a rare phenomenon. Suicidal behaviour among adolescents is influenced by predisposing factors like family environmental issues, academic stress, substance abuse, parental substance use, family history, experience of bullying, depression and inter-personal stress in family context,” says Dr Vijay Sagar.

“Generally, how has the child been, what’s his or her temperament, how impulsive the child is… all these matter,” Dr John says, adding that in many cases, the adolescent may not have a suicidal intention, but still makes an attempt, and in some cases it can turn fatal.

TIMES VIEW

Instead of taking challenges in their stride, youngsters are crumbling too easily and giving up on life. Often, unrealistic expectations from themselves and those around push children to such extremes that they choose death over defeat. The trigger for self-loathing could come from parents, teachers, peers and society at large. Adults need to ensure a healthy environment for children, where channels of communication are open and they are not judged at every step. The cure to this unhealthy trend lies in a collective effort at making youngsters mentally stronger, where they know that failures are nothing but stepping stones to success.

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