November 2012: Sonam Chowdhari, an 11-year-old girl from Chikhali village, committed suicide after her father scolded her for watching television.
November 2012: A 17-year-old college student committed suicide by hanging herself from the ceiling of her house in Bhosari as she couldn’t afford new clothes for Diwali.
Cases of teenagers and youth committing suicide are being reported with alarming frequently and city based counsellors and psychologists, from their experience of counselliing children and teenagers who show depression or suicidal tendencies have noted that reasons seem “trivial.” They say that proper counselling and friendly approach of parents can wean away from suicidal thoughts and prevent them from taking the extreme step.
Supriya Kothari, lawyer and founder of Bhagini Helpline says that 40 per cent of total cases of depression she deals with comprises children and teenagers aged 8 years to 18 years. “Parents get them here for problems like depression, suicidal tendencies and other behavioural problems. On probing further, I discover they are upset for very small reasons like parents not allowing them to go out with friends, their lifestyle not matching up to their friends’, relationship with the opposite sex and so on.”
Citing one case she handled, she says the girl was a students of Class 7 and had got addicted to smoking. The girl used to break things in her house and get violent with parents. She even tried to cut her vein 8-10 times. “Her parents brought her for counselling for at least four times but she refuses to even listen. She picked up the habit of smoking from friends. Her parents have given up on her,” says Kothari.
Besides, television has introduced kids to concepts they will not get to learn anywhere else. Even if parents are having a small argument, the kid gets upset thinking that his/her parents would get divorced, says Kothari.
To a large extent, experts say at face value, the reasons might seem trivial but a larger picture reveals the reasons were big enough for children because nobody explained it to them. While children are craving for attention, parents are busy gathering lifestyle and luxury for their kids; the demand and supply don’t seem to match. “There is a wide communication gap between children and parents these days. On one hand, parents fulfill all the demands of their child at one go, and on the other, children are seeking instant gratification. And when they don’t get that, they get upset depressed and even suicidal,” says Parul Khona, counsellor and psychotherapist. Recently, Khona counselled a teenaged girl who was depressed because she broke up with her boyfriend and her parents had taken back her mobile phone saying she was always busy with Facebook, chat or bbm. “I made the parents understand that it is very normal to get attracted to the opposite sex when they are in their teens. She needs to talk to her friends and open up. Snatching away the phone will do no good. I asked them to set some deadlines for chatting and Facebook. On the other hand, the girl very maturely understood the importance of a deadline and agreed to stick to it,” recalls Khona. The mantra, she says, is to communicate and be friends with your children. “Saying no to everything is not the solution.”