Eleven year old reality star kills self… HSC girl ends life as family steps out to the market… 21 suicides in a month… Fed up with life, teen kills self on parent’s anniversary..

These are not incidents happening in distant places, but are a shocking reality of cities such as Mumbai. The fact that instances of suicides are on the rise is disturbing enough. But what is truly deplorable is that children are committing suicide.

While child suicides did happen in the past, they were certainly not so frequent. The bottom line therefore is that this problem always existed and is very much a part of our everyday lives. Were it not for the reports in newspapers and television, I would be oblivious to the gravity of this problem. What scares me is the fact that one will never really know if a child truly has suicidal tendencies. The indicators are not foolproof.

Gone are the days when children were just….children. Innocent, naïve, happy and carefree are adjectives used to describe children: But do they still hold ground today? Have they matured overnight? Does the license to commit such a drastic act lie only with adults?

From the numerous cases that we have read and heard, one surprising aspect is that many times these victims (children) have shown no indication of any stress, hurt, anger or depression. It is baffling to know that children at such a young and vulnerable age can hide their true feelings. The façade of normalcy very often ends up fooling the relatives and families of the affected individuals.

A number of times, even if the indicators are prominent, it is not given too much importance by the families. Why is it so? Is it because a child has always been looked at as a dependent? They are not considered as individuals in society; leave alone being citizens. We need to understand that they have rights too, just like us ‘adults’. In addition, they have the right to be loved and taken care of.

Children require special attention; their needs too are different. It would be wrong to criticize the way children are brought up by their parents because I am not the right judge in this aspect. However I firmly believe that one needs to analyze this situation by taking some time out and answering a couple of questions.

• Are children growing up too fast? Do they truly have a childhood? Is innocence allowed to exist?
• What are the effects of parental pressure, peer pressure and the society on a child?
• It is a known fact that there is too much of exposure and access to inappropriate information without accountability. Isn’t it time both parents and children become more answerable to each other?
• Shouldn’t children be kept away from the clutches of cut throat competition?
• Why are so many children the victims of various kinds of abuse – mental, physical, sociological, economic, etc?
• Very often bias among siblings by parents and family due to age, ability, gender too tend to create a lasting impression on the mind of the neglected child. Isn’t it time for parents having two or more children to leave aside their prejudices and love all their children for who they are?
• Do we truly take our children’s problems seriously?

In any discussion on children suicides, I feel that it is of utmost importance that both, parents and children be heard. With this in mind, I spoke to a cross-section of people.

Akshita Kothari, a 16 years old SSC student believes that there is nothing wrong with the education system. It might be getting tougher as the years go on, but children want the easy way out rather than having to work hard. One should stay focused and not get distracted with negativity. Instead of complaining and cribbing, keeping a positive attitude is the key to staying happy. Besides this, talking openly to parents and friends will help to de-stress. Suicide is not a way out of one’s problems. It will only result in hurting the victim’s family and close ones.

Animesh Gaggar, a 17 years old student from Raj Hans, is of the opinion that suicides are caused due to multiple factors, and parental pressure to perform well is the predominant factor. According to him, liberty and freedom should be given to every child and they must not be constantly forced to live up to their parent’s high expectations. However he believes that suicide is certainly no way of dealing with this situation and there are other alternatives which differ from situation to situation. In case one is afraid to discuss their problems with parents, approaching a counselor can also be helpful.

Rounak Damani, a 21 year old Commerce student firmly believes that committing suicide is not at all the solution. However he also feels that there is a limit as to how much a person can share their problems with others. Only the affected child knows what he/she is going through. In a disturbed state of mind, these drastic acts seems logical and right to them. These children might be lonely and may feel that their parents or close ones will not understand their problem or will get angry. Therefore, they might never disclose their true feelings and will make everything appear to be normal. His only advice to teenagers and other children is that “Talking to people who are close to you might help to an extent. The most important factor is to be optimistic and positive in life, no matter how hard a situation might be. Be satisfied with whatever you have. Do not fall prey to mindless competition. Lastly, always remember that lessons learnt in life are more important than those learnt on paper.”

Devika Mehta, a 21 year old pursuing a Masters’ in Psychology, feels that the media plays a very important role in influencing people, especially young minds, by portraying the act of committing suicide as the easy way out. Moreover, there is a lot of parental pressure as they expect too much from their children. Kids who are stressed out do not realize the difference between what is right and wrong. Parental pressure just adds up to their stress. Very often instead of understanding their children’s problems, they still expect their children to do their best instead of just doing well as per their capabilities. Though it might not always be study related issues, it is important to understand the root cause of the problem affecting the child. Sometimes, it might be pressure from external factors as well. The underlining point is the need for a supportive environment wherein a problem being faced by an individual can be sensed by the people around him/her at an early stage. Sadly, however not everyone enjoys such a holistic environment.

Mrs. Jean Pereira, a Teacher and Counselor, analyses this situation by stating that parents always compare their children to others rather than comparing the child’s past performances and current progress. All of us need to realize that two individuals cannot be compared because they have different personalities, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, talents, etc. Comparisons lead to a decline in one’s self esteem. Not only parents, but even children tend to compare themselves to others. Instead of this, they must learn to compete with themselves. This will help one to at least feel good as an individual. However though this approach will not help to drastically improve one’s performance, one will surely feel a sense of achievement. Besides the issue of making comparisons, the copy cat syndrome also influences the human mind especially those at a young age. She also states that adolescents are most unhappy with their own parents. According to Sigmond Freud, one is at the ‘ego’ stage during the age of adolescence. In this stage everything a child does is right according to them. Though they know they might be wrong, they will go all out of their way trying to prove or support their beliefs and actions. All adolescents go through this phase, coupled with the search for individuality. All of us must remember that these factors most often occur simultaneously and it boils down to lowering one’s self esteem and pride.

Mrs. Sheela Goveas a parent of two, very beautifully concludes the differences, “Children are not the result of an assembly-line production. Each and every child is unique with his/her own special qualities. Nurture these and watch your children grow as unique individuals – carving a special niche for themselves in society”.

Child Suicides: Preventing more deaths

After listening to all these voices, I realized that there are some things that can and need to be done without delay. Some things we as parents and children can do right away are:

Reduce the communication gap between parents and kids. Let them feel comfortable sharing almost everything and make it a point to ask them for their opinion. Open and frequent communication helps in recognizing symptoms of distress, tension, depression at a nascent stage. This can be tackled immediately and successfully as opposed to confronting it at an aggravated stage.
Give children their space. They are growing minds at a vulnerable and volatile age.
Proper guidance and supervision is a must. Too many restrictions however, could sometimes make children rebellious. Therefore, a balance needs to be achieved. Parental intervention is necessary especially when it comes to accessing the internet, television, books etc.
Parents and elders should be involved in their kid’s work and daily schedule till they are old enough to take their own decisions.
The education system needs to be more student friendly. Too much emphasis is laid on rote learning rather than actually understanding and implementing the content that is learnt. Here again the subject of practicality of the curriculum needs to be addressed. The pressure to always score well needs to cease.
Teachers need to be guardians who truly care for the wellbeing and growth of their students. They must not beat, humiliate, punish or compare students in front of the whole classroom. A negative impact is left on the minds of those who are subjected to such treatment.
Peers too play a very important role in a child’s life. A conscious effort must be made to lay stress on the effects of bad company which could be detrimental to the child. It must however be explained that it is not the friend who is bad, but their harmful and destructive habits that are likely to cause a negative influence on the child.
The media too can play a prominent role in this regard. It must be responsible and not sensationalize reports on suicides. The internet, newspapers, television, radio, books, magazines, etc. must be cautious and accountable whenever they highlight information even if it is for entertainment purposes. Many times movies tend to romanticize suicides. This needs to stop.

Children are special beings. With a little extra caution, love, care and attention by the parents, family and society at large, child suicides can be reduced to a great extent. The problem should be recognized and focus should be given to the rights of children as citizens, as individuals of society and as human beings. Their problems should be taken seriously with sensibility; not neglected and pushed away to the background.

Children are an important part and parcel of humanity. The issue of suicides among minors is not a cause of grave concern in the city of Mumbai alone, but is of serious apprehension throughout the world. We should all work towards ensuring a safe, secure, happy and distress free life for all our young ones.

I would now like to open this article up for discussion and debate. Do post your comments.


Tanya Goveas is a CRY Volunteer and a student of the Government Law College, Mumbai. About this piece, she says, “The reason I decided to write on this issue is because I feel hurt and horrified about this situation and I genuinely hope that my words would help save the lives of all those children contemplating suicide.”

About The Author

17 Comments

  1. hi,
    my name is ryan rozario i just wanted to add something to what tanya has just said….i wouldnot blame the educational system because our educational is just a small part of a huge corrupt system that the people runing the show feel that its no big deal to make money out of almost anything.be it fodder,land,education,sports etc….some where deep within its all our mistake,from the time we were 5 we've been told to adjust to this competitive world join every1 else in defeating every1 else..whether it is studies,sports,or may be even a damm dance competition….if we win then we are the best if we dont then we have to listen to praises of other children being the best….
    As a child gradually grows he starts understanding various things success,failure,honesty,dishonesty and so on and all these things keep builvding like a lava inside a volcano waiting to erupt.When a child commits suicide alot is said about suicidal tendencies not shown but how would a child show suicidal tendencies when even he/she doesnt know whats happening to him/her because of these various conflicting motives.And by the time they realsie it it gets the better of them.
    My humble request to all parents is that dont pressurise your kid to take up something he/she dislikes eventhough u may think its for the best nothin is better than u holding your grandchild in your arms and ur son/daughter happy with whatever he/she is doin……..no matter what the world thinks about your child but whenever your child looks into your in whether he is in pain or sorrow make sure u tell him he is the best thing that has ever happened to you.

    Ryan Rozario
    property(Consultant)

  2. hi,
    My name is nirav kanani. i kust want to say that main reason according to me is the parental pressure on children to perform better. They force their children to concentrate on the things which they like rather then the things which their children likes.
    My humble request to all parents is that dont pressurise your kid to take up something he/she dislikes eventhough u may think its for the best nothin is better than u holding your grandchild in your arms and ur son/daughter happy with whatever he/she is doin

  3. Hi,
    My name is Satyanshu Mishra. i just want to tell Miss Tanya here that this blog of hers, according to me, a very well thought and also one of the major problems in India, which needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.
    And according to me, if i may add, one of the main reasons for which a child commits suicides is the mental stress he/she is forced to deal with. Be it studies, parental pressure, or, as a matter of fact, even their work lives (as it may be in case of the child star.
    What the current society of India needs to understand is that a child is like wet cement, whatever falls on it makes an impression. A child is not, till the age of 18, according to me, yet ready to deal with his/her problems alone, and that whatever the case maybe, the parents should support their children.

  4. The availability of Information and its dispersion in a very short span of time is the result of distortion in today's children. Handling the amount of information and being able to absorb them in the right manner is something children are not equipped to do.
    Manipulating this information and then constructively making it available is the main role of Parents. Tanya, I wish you all the best for your efforts. Hope to find many people like you :-)

    Regards
    Nabeel

  5. Hey this is Tanya Goveas. Thank you for appreciating my effort and posting your comments. Creating mass awareness is absolutely essential and hopefully this forum will help in doing the same along with bringing about effective solutions to this problem.

  6. Hi,
    My name is Lavanya Mani. Well i'd like to think the problem is, just like most people, and that is, parents try pursuing their failed dreams their failed ambitions and the like through their children. More than a competition or say a rat race among the children its among the parents of those children, that, whose child is doing better and who scores better. Thus the pressure on the children and the drive to kill oneself as it seems like the only means available to them! However the problem that is worth noticing is that children fail to express their dislikes, their disinterests, etc openly. Only when such things are brought to light will the parents know the pressure, the disinterest in pursuing a particular course and/or the inability to take in any more! The children even if are worried of the consequences of being blatant with their parents should express 'what they really want?'! only then the problem can be dealt with effectively!

    what i'd also like to say is that its a very well written, heartfelt and a genuine post! and yes it has made me brood over the issue!

  7. Hi
    my name is vinish. When i was a kid i never knew what was stress. Its a complicated world we living in now. I think one of the reasons is the money these shows offer for children. Now who wouldn't be greedy to get money by making his child dance or sing. If reality shows were giving flowers as prizes… nothing of this would ever happen

  8. The article is food for thought. one is left wondering why we never hear about children from very poor families attempting suicides. surely it is not deprivation or loss of comfort. it is more a case of mismatched expectations and deeply hurt and bruised egos. children who have to struggle to live have no time to think of death. but those children who take their worldly comforts for granted flirt with death, how ironical!

  9. Hi! This is Sanjay Gupta, a volunteer and a student of Government Law College. I certainly agree with Tanya about the situation regarding suicide of childrens in our country. I think the problem of such an unfortunate tragedy lies in the unwanted corruption existing in our society. The linking of corruption to our child suicide tragedy is indirect though important to understand. The solution to such problem lies in the education of parents as to how to tackle the pressure that a child faces in his daily life. For instance, in today's competitive society, when a child get an average marks in the exam, the parents instead of consolidating their childrens, embark upon them as if they have done the most heinous crimes of the world. However, we cannot blame parents for this. The parents always thinks better future for their childrens. But the corruption in the college admission process which introduces the policy of "donation payment" if your children do not get good marks in the exam and still you dare to aim a good college for your children, is a root cause of child suicide incidents. Nowadays, childrens are facing immense pressure from this competitive society. Now, its up to us whether we want to save our future or let it go as it may.

  10. It is a good effort in pointing out an important ailing issue. Your narration is a comprehensive 1st step and am sure will get fantastic add-on inputs from fellow reviewers.

  11. The recent spate in suicides by children is of serious concern. I think shoving the blame on educational system or other competitive or stressful situations whether arising out of physical, social or economic conditions will do no good because such situations have always existed and will continue to exist. What is important is that one should learn to deal with stress. Parents and teachers need to assume this most important role of being a 'counsellor' to their children or students. If parents and teachers talk to their children and allow them to vent their feelings in a positive way more than half of the problem vanishes. But unfortunately in present times parents do not spend enough time with their children nor do try to understand them. Most teachers are least bothered and are only in a mad race for completing their portion. It is when the child has no one to share his or her problem and when he or she can no longer grapple with the problems or stress all alone that the child decides to take such drastic step as suicide. My only request to all parents is to understand the importance of GOOD COMMUNICATION and ACCEPTANCE OF THE UNIQUENESS OF THEIR CHILDREN.

    I would like to share a poem with all the readers so that they can ponder over it….

    When a little child questions his mom-
    Why am I not the best?
    but still not like the rest
    Why can't I be in Maradona's league?
    but still you say that I am unique
    Why can't I always win?
    but instead sometimes lose with a grin
    Why do I need to fall?
    when I know successful people ever stand tall
    Why am I so slow and so shy?
    when my counterparts already learnt how to fly
    To which in all her maturity she replies-
    Child
    You may not be on the top
    but that doesn't mean you should ever stop
    What matters is not how low you fall or how high you rise
    What matters is how hard you try
    Always remember-
    Uniqueness cannot be competed
    In this race each individual remains undefeated!
    (source: Government Law College Magazine 2009-2010)

  12. RITWIK MITTAL ,GOVERNMENT LAW COLLEGE MUMBAI

    After discussing this burgeoning topic with my fellow mates i found that at least there is someone who feel horified. when i came to know about this article and research work completed by tanya goveas i feel reluctant to read this and i am melted . the research done in this topic is that level.if this article takes a turn outsite india so tjis year this could be the debating topic at copenhagen un 15 conference.
    after debating and analysing it with my mates outside india especially at university of miami usa.including my professor ms gracin.lets check out a panel dicussion which is as follows.
    a succesful panel discussion in between me and my friens in usa at university of miami

    "At age nine, kids are just beginning to understand that death is final," says University of Texas' Dr. Betsy Kennard. Dr. Kennard, who specializes in the treatment of depression and suicide in adolescents, told the Dallas Morning News that "youths typically don't have the long-term view of the world that adults do. They may think their despair won't go away, so there's more hopelessness," she said. "Youths are also more impulsive, which puts them at higher risk."
    About 5 percent of children and adolescents are suffering from depression at any given time. That's about one or two children in each classroom. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the behavior of depressed children and teenagers may differ from the behavior of depressed adults. Child and adolescent psychiatrists advise parents to be aware of signs of depression in their youngsters

    finaly nd last but not the least a famous idiom
    tanya you have done a excellent job.and i try my level best to promote it as much i can .
    if i say a international level publication then also it is least.
    again well done tanya
    "we people change we need"
    stand!stand!stand!stand

    "Happiness does not have to cost a life!"

  13. What is astonishing about the recent child suicides is the fact that most of these kids are not children who've had a horrifying past of sexual abuse or poverty. Children brought up in a normal, average, middle-class Indian family environment aren't able to cope with the pressures of day-to-day life. Its easy to blame the media or the parents, the teachers or their friends, but what I feel is that we need to address this issue at the grass root level. The techniques, strategies, methods adopted by our society in the past while dealing with children no longer work. Its a do or die situation out there in the world right now and the tension and pressure is somehow seeping down to the children. I strongly feel our education system could play a major role in preventing the child suicides happening around us. Somehow studies for children have become tougher, the competition has increased, everyone wants their child to go to IIT, earn in crores or become a world class surgeon. Whatever happened to finding your passion? Chasing your dreams? Experiencing everything life has to offer. Unfortunately the syllabus doesn't cover that. We need to bring about a revolution in our technique of dealing with today's children because clearly, we're failing. Introduce an assignment oriented teaching system, hold quizzes and puzzles for annual assessments, enforce a grading system for the lower levels. Why does life need to be so competitive at that age? When we look back and think of ourselves as 6 year olds, we never cared about getting into IITs or IIMs, we didn't give a damn if we came 1st in class unless it meant getting a new bike! Life is meant to be simple when you're a kid. Lets not complicate it for them.

  14. It is very sad to hear about the alarming trends in Children suicides.Not only a parent has lost its child,but a nation has also lost a gift who in future would have been a great example to the world.As we read the article,we say that the government,education
    system,media,parents are responsible for such events.They are and we too as citizens.Go out and reach children who are facing such problems,Whether its your neighbour or some one you know.Help their parents and educate them.The children are our future help them realize that they are special.

    Praveen Dsouza.

  15. Good job Tanya!
    I would like to share a poem here. I wrote this after reading the plight of a 10 yr old child who was molested raped by her own brothers and his frns. What a shame!

    I pray and I choose to say,
    To the crippled, to the blind and to the dumb,
    To the deaf, to the mute and to the numb.

    I was An Innocent Child,
    Until I saw what it was to understand it all.

    The feeling was lame, the touch was a shame,
    Yet I failed to understand the same.
    Creepy eyes, dirty thoughts and unclean words,
    All seeping into the temple of God.
    Scared was I, An Innocent Child
    Until I saw what it was to understand it all.

    The realization dawned, the feeling crept in,
    The poison seeped in.
    Curse was I to the temple of God.
    Unclean, Impure, Stained, Unwashed.

    I was An Innocent Child,
    Until I saw what it was to understand it all.

    Ninatte Quadros

  16. parents lose their children long before they commit suicide … its happens when they make a decision to earn more money and leave the child on its own without support. Children need family involvement to help them with their problems without which they feel alone and helpless.

  17. I love your effort and hope you will continue to post more stuff.

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