Utterly Unacceptable: Teen Suicide!


Last evening my daughter walks into my room after her bath and perches herself upon my bed while I was looking for some quizzes to play on Sporcle! I took a cursory glance at her and saw her eyes swollen. After her agonising experience nearly a year ago about which I had written in an earlier blog, (https://www.musingswhileunlearning.com/2019/02/like-it-or-not-growth-happens.htmlwe are paranoid about her eyes and ENT status. I asked her whether she was crying, mentally crossing out the PMS dates and she denied it. I stopped doing everything else and focused my full attention on her and asked her again, to which she shook her head as though to dismiss the idea but I knew I was right and I told her she’d have to give that answer to someone else. I waited for her to reply and she broke down.

 My daughter is taking her pre-board exams and day before yesterday was her Mathematics paper- a subject that makes even a cool person like her sweat occasionally! On return from school, she usually has a lot to say and on a day like this, a lot more than usual. Unlike what you would probably expect, very little does she have to say about her paper; it is about things that tickled her funny bone. Well, she rattled on about the topper in her class who was always terrified before the exam and said he’d fail almost every time but would barely lose a mark. On this day too, he said he hadn’t studied enough and was sure to fail. My daughter laughed at him and later met another boy in her class, who wasn’t a great performer and discussed the topper’s reaction with him. The two grinned deviously and went back to the topper. This time when the boy repeated the dialogue, his friend pounded him and the three ended up laughing before parting ways for their respective halls. They didn’t meet again. My daughter did write to this friend (not the topper) though asking him how he fared in his exam to which he replied with two sweating emoticons!


Last evening a friend who lives nearby sent her a message enquiring after this boy. She said she knew him well enough since they were in the same class. She was told that the young boy had committed suicide. She was beside herself. She couldn’t believe it. He was such a happy boy. I let her cry to her heart’s content, my own heart pounding violently. She had checked with a few other friends hoping it was false news but they confirmed it.

This morning the class was assembled and they did observe two minute silence in his memory. Apparently, he had written a note but the contents were not known.

What is this world coming to? Suicides at any stage are unacceptable and saddening but in the case of young ones, it is heartbreaking! Has the value of one’s own life come to nothing?  On one hand, you have people suffering with diseases that are killing them slowly but they battle on because life means so much and here you see young blood that should be positive and raring to go, take monstrous steps like this! I began browsing the internet for figures and sadly it was worse than I expected.

Credits: neatoday.com

I believe that when a person takes his or her own life, he or she has lost faith in humanity along with loss of belief in himself/ herself. When a person reaches such a point, where their mind has convinced them that there are no solutions, they struggle in ways that seem helpful but in fact go further and further away from reality. They do not trust enough to open up freely. They end up painting a bleak and dark picture and see no light. They are so engrossed in this fake reality that their mind shows them that they cannot communicate effectively and ultimately take their own precious lives- a life that had so much possibility and promise.

Credits: amazon.com
“Thirteen Reasons Why” is a popular book and Netflix series by Jay Asher, based on a teen who commits suicide. While it is a little over the top, with her sending tapes to the people she held responsible in one way or the other in advance of her suicide in a way that it reached them after the deed was done, it beautifully (and poignantly) brings out the struggles in the mind of a young girl who tries to fit in but cannot and withdraws slowly and steadily from everyone. The warped thinking of the brain in desperation is brought out effectively by the author as is the inability of people around her to notice warning signs.
The scenarios for a teen to take such a drastic step may be anything, from bullying to low self esteem; from abuse of any kind at home between parents or meted out to the child himself/herself to broken homes; from not being able to cope up with studies to being bogged down by parental/societal expectations…the list is endless.

A teenager goes through a whole range of physical and physiological changes. The hormones wreak havoc and they find their bodies and mind are not in their control. Coupled with this, is the sudden change in parental interaction which changes from complete adulation to criticism, excessive at times, increased expectations both from home and school, peer pressures and much more. With so much exposure they also have too much information, too early in life. They grow up sooner in ways but the maturity is lacking. All in all, life stresses them out and weighs heavily upon their shoulders.

This being the basic situation of every teen, depending on their background, their personality and their support system, a trigger which is traumatic or sudden or persistent, can make these vulnerable youngsters react in different ways and in some cases meet terrible ends.

Credits: wbiw.com
While the percentage of single parenting is high in the West, India is a country that has been proud of its family structure, be it a joint family or a nuclear family. Yes, the trend of divorce and single parenting is on the rise in urban India but the family structure is still very strong and supportive. Therefore, teen suicides here are even more shocking because it questions our system and indicates a breakdown in its functioning! Are our lives so busy that we fail to notice signs in our near and dear ones? Why, the blue whale scare was a wakeup call, wasn’t it? Are parents and siblings so disconnected and steeped in their own lives that they fail to see changes in one of their own? Adults in depression can still fake it well but kids always show signs that can be detected by parents, then why does this disaster happen? In a world that is connected across the globe, are we so lonely and lost, that we have no one to turn to?

A disturbing trend I see in kids is that they are friends with everybody but are close to none. When I talk to my kids about their buddies, they hardly warm up to anyone in particular. The good part is that they have nothing mean to say about anybody but they also don’t feel responsible for anyone. While friends bond big time over games, memes and social media they don’t make deep connections and to an extent are pretty indifferent to each other’s lives. Is it surprising then that the telltale signs of a friend, losing his/ her battle to stay afloat, go unnoticed? Most depressed people laugh a lot and joke a lot, hiding their darkness from people but a real friend can see through it. That doesn’t seem to happen anymore.

Suicide attempts are rarely impulsive. There are a whole lot of warning signs because a child/person contemplating it, deep down inside, doesn’t want it to happen and is desperately hoping to be bailed out. It is when no one notices that despair takes over and they begin to feel unimportant and a burden upon everybody.

Do check out www.urmc.rochester.edu  about teen suicide and please spread awareness if you can. Do be involved with the children in your life and tell them you care. Children especially teenagers can be a handful at times and parents aren’t growing younger; tempers do flare but at the end of the day we are a team and we have to cover each other’s backs. All they need is to know that they are not alone.

 Life is too precious to be lost and definitely not for the reason to have no one to trust. Meditation, I believe, should be practiced by one and all, to calm the mind for it is the mind that conjures up the worst case scenarios when we are down. Breaking negative thinking is an ongoing process-NOTHING IS SO BAD FOR YOU TO GIVE YOUR LIFE UP. Every Cloud has a silver lining. Just hang in there and live from moment to moment when the going gets tough and please confide in someone.

In India, you can find help at www.aasra.info and the helpline no. is 022 2754 6669.



Comments

  1. We have to really make an effort for younger generations to feel precious and yet bold.
    Very sad to hear this bit!!!

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