Is your child in danger?
Of the many socials ills that society is facing, perhaps the most tragic is that of teenage suicide. A young life brimming with potential, a life treasured by parents and family snuffed out before its flame could burn brightly. What sight can be more horrific than of a parent walking into their child’s bedroom only to find him hanging from the rafters or with the bed linen soaked with blood from a slit wrist?
The tragedy is that if the same person had to live just a few more years and be able to look back at his decision, then he would realise just how petty was the problem over which he took his own life. However there is no reversal.
Causes: While the causes of suicide vary, it is generally a buildup of multiple causes which pushes a person beyond sane thought and action. Some of these include:
Suffering a major disappointment such as rejection, loss of a boyfriend or girlfriend or failure at school or in sports may trigger suicidal tendencies in teenagers. Though some of these actions are Haraam, they are unfortunately prevalent in the lives of many of our teenagers.
Stress, confusion, pressure and worries about self-worth are common problems in many teenagers. Teenagers may have to go through parental divorce, moving in with a new family, living in a new location or going to a different school. In some cases, teenagers may be victims of physical or sexual abuse. These unsettling matters intensify feelings such as distress, anxiety or agitation.
Depression is another major cause of suicide. This mental disorder can cause feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. Approximately 75 percent of people who commit suicide suffer from depression, according to the Harris County Psychiatric Center at the University of Texas.
Drug or alcohol abuse can lead to impulsive behavior, especially if a teenager is haunted by other problems such as a mental disorder or family difficulties. Like adults who turn to alcohol or drugs, teenagers may believe that substance abuse will bring them relief from their difficulties, but it only worsens the problems. Substance abuse and mental disorders play prominent roles in a majority of suicides.
Added to this, adolescence is generally a vulnerable time in a person’s life. No matter how small or big their problems, their troubles may feel to be unbearable or overwhelming. Couple this with a lack of parental support and we have a recipe for terrible disaster. According to a study, more than 90% of teenagers who attempted suicide said that little or no parental care and understanding led them to take this extreme step.
Suicide warning signs
- Talking or joking about committing suicide
- Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out.”
- Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more”)
- Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide
- Engaging in reckless and dangerous behavior
- Giving away prized possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
What can you do?
Parents taking time out to be there for their kids is the first step in the right direction. As Yawar Baig succinctly points out: “Today in the Yuppie and Puppy cultures the idea of bringing up children is to feed them, ensure that they are washed and dried and entertained. This thinking is the root of all evil. Food, a dry bed and toys is what your dog needs, not your child.” Don’t be selfish with your time or the time will come when you will want to engage with your kids, but they will want nothing to do with you.
Speak up if you’re worried
If you notice concerning behaviour from your child, you must speak up. Very often your child will not want to discuss his or her problems especially if there was a former communication barrier. Breaking the ice and opening lines of communication can be a daunting task. Forcing the issue will not help. You will have to be gentle yet persistent in your approach.
When they do open up, take time to listen to their issues. Do not interrupt or trivialise their issues. Issues small to you maybe mountains to them. Be sympathetic, caring and helpful. You may take it for granted but at times, all that your child needs is to know that someone cares.