Suicide by Young Children - A Disturbing Trend

Jan 19, 2010 

It is very disturbing to read news reports about young children committing suicides. Opinion seems to point at excessive stress due to studies-which may be the main reason. But that does not end there. Parents have to go through unimaginable trauma during their entire life. No parents can withstand the shock of losing a child as every parent tries to give their best to their children and look forward to good results from them in return. .
As news of more children committing suicides pours in, all of us try to find out the reason for this disturbing trend. What is it that troubles these children who take such drastic steps to end precious lives? There may be many reasons.  

Psychological Connection
Many parents try to push their children to the extreme to ensure their children get higher grades all the time. This results in tremendous pressure on the children depriving them from enjoying any free time for themselves. As a parent myself, I see how terrible it is to see our children go through the mundane activity of tuitions, home work and completion of other projects.  Day after day, every hour and every minute of their time which is spent in tuitions, homework and completion of projects. Except for major holidays, there is no time for a child to be himself to recall the events of the day. Sadly their day ends at 11-30 at night or much later and they have to wake up at 6-00 am or before that to get up and study and them go to school. The schooling is very strict up to SSC and once they step into the college the children feel they are like free birds, a strange paradox, which shows how rotten our education system is.    
Academic pressure
The burden of school portion and number of books they need to study are so much that the children get crushed under the weight of the burdens of bags and there seems to be no respite.. Today primary school children are forced to study the portion of what secondary level children used to learn decades ago. We expect our child to become geniuses and grow fast mentally while emotionally what happens to them –we hardly bother. At their tender age we make them achievers like robotic machines, like morons, rather than encourage them to grasp and explore the surroundings for the small joys during the rains or winter. These children are not lucky to discover the happiness from watching colorful birds, blooming flowers and noisy insects. Interacting with nature comes once a year, that too if they go for a picnic. Otherwise, all those things happen within the four walls-on POGO and cartoon Channels!
With no physical exercise and sports activities, a sizeable chunk of students have lost their childhood in the rat race to satisfy the whims and fancies of their parents.   Our archaic system of education is killing the childhood of our students softly. In leading a stressful life students get used to obesity by resorting to easting junk food contentment deprived to them. Many a time we tease them as ‘fatty’ rather than pondering over the reasons behind it.

Peer (Social) Pressure
Students who come from the lower income group have tremendous pressure on them.
Their parents expect them to study well and get good results, thereby pinning their hopes on them as they expect them to get good marks, land up a good job and eventually contribute towards improving the economic status of the family.  Of course parents are not wrong but they have to exercise restraint when it comes to expecting too much from their children. Today educational institutions have become factories that churn out degree holders at regular intervals like robots.  They chase goals year after year and end up paying less attention to understand themselves. 

Examination Stress 
In olden days there were two semesters in a year and test papers had choice of questions, at least for half the portion. It was delightful to have choices. Today, sadly, children have no choices.  Compulsory subjects and tough questions intimidate children like predators. The child is confronted with these fearful situations which threaten to destroy their very ability to the core. Students are torn between the academic results and pressure of facing parents. This leads to undue stress and finally children find solace in committing suicides rather than face the wrath of the family and that of the society.

Due to the pressure of studies, children remain tense and try to find an escape route through activities-sometimes not right and they fail to understand the implications of their behaviour. Sometimes children get into bad company and charter through the forbidden path,  They fall into bad company and start getting into bad habits like drugs and other abusive lifestyle,  which then goes out of their control. Any attempt to stop these tendencies results in serious consequences- from suicides to depression. Programmes like Reality Shows and other competitions distract the young ones from real situations where they are supposedly kept grounded. Aspirations sometimes go too far resulting loss of precious lives.

Though situation is unavoidable, surely we can do something about it. We are responsible for this mess we have created.  If we love our children, support them and give them a buffer to fall back upon , they will never get into traps like suicidal tendencies. Listening and lending patient ear will enable them to confide their feelings. Years back families were large and siblings were secure due to their chances to confide and play with each other.  Today families have fewer children and many have only one! How do you expect a child to develop a childlike relationship with parents who are busy? How many of us really take time to play with our children?  Today we want our children to learn fast, grow quickly and earn more. But the paradox is that when these children develop unwanted qualities including becoming sexually active or get addicted to drugs.  May be faster achievement comes with strings attached. It is time to ponder and device ways and means to overcome this mess.  . We better have people with average expectations who are happy in life than those disgruntled and grumbling generation of scholars! (achievers)

by George D'Souza
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Comment on this article

  • devika, mlore

    Thu, Jan 21 2010

    Even poorer do live happily ,happiness is in the heart and live make it alive teach the moral of life not money and richness or standards watch your love as humans....

  • Precilla, Shirva/Dubai

    Wed, Jan 20 2010

    Very Good Article George, as all the facts of education are put in I wish the education ministry will open their mind, read, understand & bring some changes in the education level which will really benefit the children and ease the burden of both the parent & children.

  • Della Rego, Mangalore, Doha, Qatar

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    Thanks to Mr.George D'Souza & daiji. It is an informative and good article where all the parents/guardian must read. Yes..I do feel that till 6th or 7th grade subjects, syllabus and portions to be covered should be limited as young kids are having so much pressure on their tiny fingers and on their mind. They cannot enjoy their primary school childhood thoroughly. Now mostly both parents are working and they do not have much time to spare with their kids in result we make kids to study or complete their homework within "our time limit" as we have to finish other household work or outside work. Poor children have to compromise so much in order to excel good marks that too they wake up so early in the mornings & start their routines. May God bless all the children and let no child is felt lonely, frustrated and commit suicide.

  • Antony Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney, Australia

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    It`s a very sad and disturbing article by George D`Souza and my heartfelt sympathies go to all those parents who have lost their loved ones. In fact, it`s shocking to learn that young lives are lost!. First of all, good comments and advice by Veera Coutinho and A. D`Cunha Shenoy. I might add and implore to parents, please grow up! Leave your kids alone. Give them space and let them study at their own pace and ability! Provide them the right atmosphere though for carrying on with their studies and do their own things, and they will be fine.

    After all, everybody can`t be topping the class/hold ranks and bring in good marks!. It`s not the end of the world, even if they fail miserably!. Only monitor them that they do not fall into the wrong company of friends and stray away from their normal studies/routines and make sure they do their best. I know it`s easily said than done. But give it a try. For instance, I and my wife were busy working and never bothered to check, push or pester my two sons when they were at School and College, but provided them full freedom, facilities and the right atmosphere, and they turned out to be fine!(may be we were lucky!?).Thanks by the way, to George D`Souza and the Daijiworld for bringing in this important article which is very close to so many people.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    Even young children are committing suicides to escape high the high stress of life! The parents who are leading the children to suicide will be living in pain, for the rest of their lives. I do remember, when I took economics as the main subject for my graduate studies, some of my relatives tortured me with the question " what kind of job you will get, what kind of future you are going to have"? Can anybody predict their future? Someway, God gave me certain measure of faith in divine direction, so I gave the simple answer " ask to God".

    When we take education as our God, and try to mould the future based on the subject and marks our children can get, that is totally a wrong way driving. Please understand our children's strength and weakness, and try to encourage them in their strong points. A lot of students with high ranks are not accomplishing anything greater than some of the average students who are socially inclined extroverts in nature. Teach our children about values of life, and to be positive thinkers, and those children will accomplish great things in life even without ranks.

    Many American parents of Indian origin have caused their children mental breakdown, yet another group of children had to run away from home because they were under heavy pressure in life to fly higher than they could, but crashed miserably so they can't face their parents, relatives and friends. Please don't destroy our children.

  • Ramesh, Mangalore/usa

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    This is a symptom or teething problem of every developing nation. Parents are not educated enough to realize this until their child commits suicide. We have to learn to encourage children and not give them a target. They are not merchandise that have a shelf life. I too have that trait in me and it is easy to advise but hard to implement. Hopefully, we will have a change in this trend and have a different measure for success.

  • A.D'Cunha Shenoy, Mangaluru

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    Are Indian parents driving the children too far? Asking too much? Comparing them with next door Johns? Or want their children to seek materiality by being rank holders/ successful? Or the lifestyle of modern middle class parents? The parents should be educated first then all will fall in place. Keep expectations low in life.

  • John Tauro, Mangalore / Kuwait

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    I wish this high instructive article be translated into local languages so that it may be read and understood by all so that all parents and children may develop a healthy relationship, a relation that understands, cares, supports and co-operates with each other.

  • Lawrence, Mangalore

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    Very good article at right time, highlighting and focusing plight of young children due to today's education system. Thank you George.

  • Cornel, Bangalore

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    Guys, watch 3 idiots. A must see movie for all the parents.

  • Henry Misquith, MANGALORE/BAHRAIN

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    Nice article... veera, you are right. And a big thanks to George Desouza.

  • Charles D'Mello, Pangala

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    All children can not be rankies..!!! As parents pressurising children to take a particular course and also pressurising to study more and more beyond their capacity is not correct. Soceity needs rankies,first class, second class and also outs..!!!! Many a cases outs will not get a job and they are forced to start their own business and students of first three categories are employed by them..!!!?????

  • Veera Coutinho, Shirva/Mira road

    Tue, Jan 19 2010

    Very nice article to add further talk with young children about their feelings. Encourage young children to express their feelings. If a child does not seem to feel comfortable expressing feelings verbally, support other ways to express feelings, such as writing, drawing or being physically active. Explain to young children that being sad from time to time is normal. Sadness is the emotion people feel in times of loss, disappointment or loneliness. Take steps to ensure that young children do not have easy access to materials they could use to harm themselves. Focus on active involvement with young children that provides them with a focus for their feelings and energies. Play games, participate in sports, visit playgrounds and do other activities together.

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