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Teenager Suicides in India

Teenager Suicides in India

Bhavna Sharma, Assistant Editor

26 Feb, 2020

Did you know that teenage suicides In India are almost equal to farmer suicides? Statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that there were 10,349 farmers committed suicide in 2018 closely followed by 9,431 suicides by teenagers.  

The data shows that student suicides accounted for 7.6% while farmers accounted for 7.7% of all suicides in the country.

Causes of These Suicides-

The leading causes of suicides among teenagers include exam failures, lack of awareness, behaviour and mental well-being which constituted 59% percent of the suicides. Enormous parental expectations, inability to cope with unfamiliar environment are among the factors that have tipped students over the edge. According to World Health Organization, one in four teens suffer from depression but is largely left unattended. 

The lack of awareness and social support systems that are critical to nurturing teens to be a responsible citizen are the bane of modern society where families are increasingly becoming nuclear families living in large disconnected communities in stark contrast to extended families living in a close connected community of the past. 

The schools, where the students spend a large part of their life, are solely focused on curriculum delivery and largely ignore the awareness building and emotional well-being of students. The parents themselves are not equipped and do not fully understand the importance of these aspects in nurturing their children. Some efforts are being made by schools to engage students and bring in holistic development programs but the prohibitive costs involved in the implementation of such activities are a deterrent.

But what’s most important is that sometimes students often nurse mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression which can trigger suicidal thoughts. This problem has been largely overlooked. 

There is a huge discord between aspirations and reality. The youthful teenagers’ aspirations are high and look at achieving them quickly. The enrolment ratio in higher education has increased in the past 15 years but substantive opportunities in the economy have not seen corresponding increase. The economic boom over the past 25 years which followed the opening up of markets in India has not only created new opportunities but also contributed to stark income inequality, rapid urbanization, and weakened social ties. 

In addition, the active involvement of the youth on social networking sites and gaming sites has further exacerbated the malaise. According to a study by the University of Missouri, the use of social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat can lead to symptoms of depression if such social media websites triggers feelings of envy among its users. The use of social media leads to addictive virtual engagements while restricting users’ real-world connectivity and increases the level of aspirations among the users without any support or guidance systems in place.

The school and teachers are neither equipped nor enabled to address these issues effectively. These developments have pushed the teenagers further into isolation leading to associated ailments like drugs, substance abuse, depression and suicides.  Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety need to be addressed without associated stigma in schools and colleges. 

Parents should be encouraged to inculcate and foster feelings of sensitivity and empathy toward their children. Today, the teenagers do not have the ability to cope with failure, loss and minor frustrations, which coupled with social alienation, creates a critical situation for many students. Indian parents should be made aware of such issues who usually are in denial mode. The parents need to be able to discern the child’s cry for help and give him/her all the assistance that is needed.

The issue of mental health among students was also highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in one of his radio address and urged the immediate action to address the issue of “depression instead of suppression”.