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Rediff.com  » Getahead » Student suicide: A counsellor answers reader queries

Student suicide: A counsellor answers reader queries

Last updated on: January 22, 2010 17:26 IST
How do you prevent young lives being snuffed out too soon? Is it pressure to perform, the need to keep up with one's peers and family, uphold one's reputation that has prompted a spate of student suicides in recent times?

Why are kids ending their lives one after the other in quick succession, sometimes over trivial issues? We read of such incidents every couple of days -- has a domino effect been triggered off somewhere that they are taking such a drastic step. How do you explain to a depressed youngster that suicide is not the solution to any troubles?

How do you read the warning signs and alert a friend's family if you think s/he may do something unpredictable?

In a chat with Get Ahead readers on January 20 Dr Lakshmi Vijaykumar, founder trustee of SNEHA, a voluntary centre for suicide prevention, addressed these issues.

For those of you who missed the chat, here's the unedited transcript.


 RDx asked, Do parents in India not spending enough time with their children these days? I feel this is point where children feel lonely.
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers,  at 2010-01-20 16:10:29It is true that with the current change of life style parent5s are spending less time with the children and in the reduced time which they spend, the parents are morer enquiring about academic, friends etc. instead of being able to relaxz with the child. So the child always feels that it is being questioned and evaluated all the time and not accepted.. If parents spend more time in leasure activities with their children the child will feel better.


sdfsdf asked, my brother age 28 years. he recently attempted suicide. we do not know reasons for suicide. he has some credits worth rs.20,000/- for that he attempted suicide.he did not share the feeling with anybody. what i am praying all please share all your problems with u r parents or friends before going for suicide.
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, You are absolutely right. Majority of the time we dont express our feelings to others. Suppress it and feel that we are all alone and that nobody will help us. The first thing to do when you are feeling suicidal is to share your pain and feeling with your parents, friends or others which will help you to feel better and mor eable to cope. When you share you share the pain also.


palakcute asked, what can be the main causes for suicide?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, Suicide is multi determined. There is no simple single reason for suicide. It results due to a complex interaction between various factors. Unfortunately, we look at the final reason and say that is the reason for suicide. But what we see is only tip of the ice berg.


rahi asked, Madam do u not think there is lack of social responsibility ownership by parents,teachers & relatives resulting in children suicide?Please give ur suggestions to control it.
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, Yes, I think it is very sad that suicide among children is increasing and it is everyone's responsibility to prevent unnecessary death of children.


rahi asked, Is it not bad effect of tv channel & movies?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, Yes, media and movies have a tremendous influence particularly among adolescents and youth. In fact there are guidelines on how media should report about a suicide to prevent copy cat suicides.


pritam asked, Suppose we see a susidal phenomenon in any individual what are the ways to rectify it
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, When you see a suicidal behaviour in any individual, the first step is to be available for them and offer emotional support. A suicidal person feels lonely, helpless and hopeless. So, at that moment of loneliness, if he or she perceives that there is somebody who cares and believes in that person, many suicides can be prevented. A warm, empathetic listening is the first step to prevent suicide.


lll asked, Madam, has it become fashion in child age to commit suiside or impact of films like 3 IDIOTS.
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, The impact of films like Three Idiots is quite substantial, particularly in the young and vulnerable who are likely to identify themselves with that person's situation and believe that suicide may be the only option.


RajHyd asked, Madam,I have seen people in deep depression ,all of them have taken some time but eventually came out of it ,one of ma friend has commited sucide recently (failed love), he was normal , intelligent, sounds bold and courageous. We are all shocked knowing abt his sudden demise, had we have known his problem beforehand we would have helped him in someway , is there a definitive way to find out sucidal tendencies ?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, You are right. Depression is associated with suicide, but majority of persons with depression can be treated successfully. Obviously your friend did not suffer from depressioin as an illness, but was probably going through depressive feeling because of love failure. Feeling rejected or feeling ashamed are often the strongest provocation to think about suicide. Suicide is often a permanent solution to a temporary problem. If your friend had shared his feelings with all of you he might have been alive and well. Never hesitate to share your feeling or go to a mental health professional if you are feeling depressed about any situation.


Jay asked, Hi Mam, my wife attempted the same by hanging herself..Luckily i reached home on time broke the door and escaped her. Now doctors are telling not to discuss the matter with her can you help as to how do i proceed its been 10 days since the incident
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, I dont know why your doctors have advised you not to discuss the issue with your wife unless she attempted because of problems between both of you. If that is the case, then it will be worthwhile for you to go to a marriage counselor to sort out the differences between both of you. If that is not the case, if it is due to any other reason, then she would welcome the opportunity to share her negative emotions with you.


Anita asked, Can therapy help ?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, Yes, therapy does help. Majority of the people who commit suicide do have some form of mental disorder. So, an accurate assessment and intervention for mental health problem will reduce suicide.


Ramesh asked, How can one identify early signs of suicide?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, Suicide is most often not a surprise. Majority of people who commit suicide have communicated their suicidal feeling to somebody. Often we dont here or we dont react because we dont know what to do. Some of the earlier signs are difficulty in sleeping, lackof interest in anything, emotional outbursts, crying tendency, giving off prized positions, meeting and saying bye and withdrawn behaviour.


nsrtul asked, can living in hostel of the teenagers can also take them on the step to suicide?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, Living in hostel per se will not provoke suicide, but if the student feels lonely, bullied, ragged or feels isolated from others, the loneliness could be a precipitating factor.


manju asked, what reason do site for 2nd std boy commiting suicide?I donth he is pressurised on studies by his parents at this age.
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, It is an unfortunate trend that very young children are engaging in suicidal behaviour now. Media even cartoons which children watch have lot of suicidal themes. The child learns from these and imitates this behaviour.


red asked, dear madam, i feel v depressed. i feel constantly under pressure of deadlines which i have not fulfilled for so long. i also have peer pressure and parental pressure to finish my studies and get married as the rest. i make so many false promises but never had the guts to work toward the promises i make for myself. this has put me under extra pressure. every morning i feel there is nothin interesting in life. i feel extremely left out. i take solace in porn and mastn and just reading books on and on or browsing for hours...but i dont feel even a bit abt doing my work or studies...i am v low on motivation...desperation usd to drive me but no more.i study at a reputed institute in the country. wat steps shud i follow to get back my normal life?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, I feel you are probably going through a depressive phase. You are under pressure from parents and also yourself in the sense that you want to do very well but as you are unable to do so, you feel you have been a failure. The fact is you are in a reputed institution which denotes that you have the capacity to finish your studies. Please dont worry about how well you need to do. But, have faith in yourself that having had the capacity to join a reputed institution, you will also have the capacity to finish the course. Look back at your past accomplishments and believe in yourself. I think the steps you can take to feel better is to sleep well, eat well, exercise eg walking for half an hour a day and try to read your books for just one or two hours in the beginning and gradually as you start feeling better, you increases your studying time. Even if you dont do well in academics, it does not mean, you cannot do well in life. In fact, majority of the people who are successful in life are people who have been academically average but had belief in themselves and who persevere in their goals. Dont be too harsh on yourself. Start liking yourself and you will feel better.


jeevan asked, my 14 year old son has become very aggresive these days, and doing badly in studies, how do i deal with him
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, As Tagore said, 14 years is always a difficult age, when you are neither a boy nor a man. The need to develop a sense of identity may make them feel aggressive. Actually aggression is an expression of insecurity. Please talk to your son. Find out what he is worried about and what his concerns are and also express your concern at his behaviour and find out how this behaviour can be subsequeted by a behaviour which will be more productive and positive.


prs asked, If children are uncommunicative does it mean they are depressed?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, It could be a sign of depression and it could also mean that sometimes, children want a bit of privacy and space for themselves.


chaya asked, what are the depression symtoms to look out for in a child?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, A change in behaviour is often the first symptom. Irritability, aggression, falling academic performance, withdrawing from normal social activities can also happen.


yasmin asked, how to deal with a child who has not done well in studies and is depressed
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, It is important to convey to the child that although study is important, it is only a part of life and there are various other factors which are important in life like being a good, honest, caring person. Our intelligence may vary from person to person, but being a good human being is more important than being intelligent. Gandhiji said, it is a socially sin to have knowledge without character. There are many avenues for leading a fruitful and purposeful life and it need not happen only by exelling in academics.


rahi asked, madam, how helpline on large scale can be run to serve help for children if they are not satisfied with conversion with their parents,friends regarding their problem before attempting for suicide?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, Helplines are very useful as they are easily accessible and provide confidential support. There may be many issues which students may not like to discuss with their parents or friends and they would like to share it with somebody who would provide an absolute confidentiality.


KillBill asked, I attempted suicide last year due to deep depression . My advice is to anyone who is suicidal , just note down what is the root cause of your problem on a paper and ask others to help you make willing enough to sort it out. Most of the times I knew the problem but I was so much withdrawn and lost hopes , that I had no inclination to do anything positive. I just wanted to die. And one thing , antidepressants do help , but take time. So do go for medication.
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, You are right. When you are depressed clinically antidepressants do help. As you have said, it takes two to three weeks for antidepressants to act and it is important that at that time, you have adequate social support to help you through the crisis. The social support would happen only when you are able to communicate to your near and dear that you need their help and support. Communication is the key.


VINAYAK asked, MY BROTHER IS A DOCTOR WHO HAS COMPLETED M.B.B.S. & WORKED FOR SOME TIME & HAVING LOT OF AMBITIONS,HE COULD NOT SUCCEED IN THE COMPETITIVE EXAMS AS WELL AS SOME PROBLEMS WHILE WORKING WITH EMPLOYER.NOW HE SAYS HE WILL DO MBA FROM ONLY IIM'S.ALL PEOPLE IN THE FAMILY SUPPORTED HIM WITH LITTLE OBJECTIONS.BUT AFTER SOME TIME HE STARTED SAYING THAT HE WON'T GET THE SLEEP.AND IS CONSUMING NARCOTIC DRUGS FROM PAST 3YEARS.AND SOME TIMES QUARRELS WITH EVERYBODY WITHOUT ANYTHING & SAYS HE WILL MAKE SUCIDE,HE WILL GO OUT FROM THE HOME,ETC,ETC.AND NOWADAYS HE STARTED EATING TABACOS SECRETELY.AND VERY HARSH REPLIES FOR EVERYBODY AND GETS ANGRY FOR EVERYTHING.HOW WE CAN BRING HIM TO BEHAVE PROPERLY?
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, Obviously your brother has lot of ambition and expectation from himself since he was not able to attain his goal, he has started behaving differently. This behaviour could also be due to substance abuse. The first step here should be to treat him so that he is weaned off from drugs, alcohol, tobacco etc. and see whether he has any underlying depression which can be treated.


suci asked, section 309 IPC attempt to sucide section 306 IPC abetment to suicide
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar answers, Unfortunatley, India is among only a few handful of countries which still have 309 IPC which punishes a person for attempted suicide. We have made strong recommendations and the law commission has also recommended to the government of India that this law is repealed. Actually, this law results in more suicide as many people who attempt suicide are refused immediate treatment as they have to face medico legal problems. Suicide is the cry for help and by making it a punishable offence we are not only ignoring the help, but we are burdening them with more shame.


Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar says, It was a real pleasure to chat with all of you. Thank you for your questions. I hope I have given some answers which may be of use to you. Bye.