Mental health is a serious topic and should be discussed sensitively, especially with children. In the last two weeks, the suicides of three 12th class girls in Cuddalore, Tiruvallur and Kallakurichi districts of Tamil Nadu have attracted attention.
According to National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 2020 data, a student ends their life every 42 minutes, which means more than 34 students commit suicide every day. 53.7% of India’s adolescent and youth population is below 25 years of age.
NCRB’s Accidental Deaths and Suicides India (ADSI) reports that 8.2% of students in the country died by suicide in 2020.
As a parent, it is important to sit down and talk with your children and provide them with a supportive environment. The only way to reduce the graph is by preventing suicides and the first step towards it is to observe the signs.
Here are some signs you should look out for in children –
- Changes in sleeping habits (sleeping too much, too little, insomnia)
- Eating too much or too little
- Lack of interest in hobbies
- A feeling of helplessness
- Engaging in self-injurious behavior
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Unspeakable pains in the body
- Drop in academic performance
- When a child loses a family member or hears of a tragic event, it’s natural for them to question death. But don’t ignore the signs if the child is very preoccupied with death, researching ways to die, or using phrases like, “You won’t miss me when I die,” “I wish I were dead.”
Not all children are able to verbalize their feelings. But, they are more likely to resort to writing or drawing about them. Notice what your child writes or draws.
Certain factors increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in children –
- Suicide attempt by family members
- Witness the violence
- Sexual harassment
- Made to feel heavy
Communication is a two-way street. Start a conversation and ask your child difficult questions, “Are you sad?”, “Do you try to hurt yourself?”, “Do you think about death?” These questions show your concern for your child.
Don’t deal with it alone. Seek immediate help from a licensed mental health practitioner and give your child the love and support they deserve.
Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, help is available. Reach the 24×7 toll-free mental health rehabilitation helpline, Kiran, 1800-599-0019.