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Updated: September 16, 2010 16:05 IST

Saving teenage lives

PADMINI B PATELL
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BUILDING AWARENESS: Preventing teenage suicides. Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
The Hindu BUILDING AWARENESS: Preventing teenage suicides. Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

Suicide Prevention Week was marked with a special discussion focussed on ‘Teenage Suicide'

A quiet Sunday evening, in a plush auditorium and a mixed audience of parents, doctors, academicians, psychologists, practicing counsellors, responsible citizens were all in rapt attention for over two hours.

The focus was ‘Teenage Suicide' a panel discussion organised by SEVA, hosted by Sunshine Hospital and moderated by Dr. K. B. Kumar, Dean of Psychology to mark Suicide Prevention Week.

An alarming increase in teenage suicide has occurred worldwide in the last few years. Statistics show most suicides that happen in Asia, happen in India and China.

Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to suicidal tendencies with changing lifestyles and intense competition escalating the problem. “Suicide is the most preventable form of death, and it's a myth that talking about it openly encourages teenagers to attempt it,” says Dr. Diana Monteiro, Counselling Psychologist, Hyderabad Association of Psychologists. Dr. Monteiro suggests the 3 A's while dealing with a probable victim – ask, appeal and assist. Importantly, parents need to listen to their wards and offer hope rather than judgment.

Dr. Mahesh Joshi of Apollo Hospital, strongly feels that physicians are ill equipped to handle the emotional repercussions of suicide. “A huge shift needs to occur with social workers and psychiatrists working with affected families, post-suicide. A national policy must come into place to make this an essential part of the hospital system.”

While Lata Subramanyam of St Ann's College recommended that, “Management of educational institutes must be proactive in deterring students from taking their lives and take on a leadership role by empowering them to handle everyday pressures.” She also highlighted the role of the media in exercising sensitivity while reporting this delicate issue. Dr. Psychologist Savita Date Menon said, “Certain amount of pressure is required for any achievement but teenagers should be made to understand that ‘too much pain brings no gain'.” .

If parents, teachers and society at large are watchful of tell-tale signs in teenagers such as persistent negative thoughts, depressed moods, irregular eating and sleeping patterns, drastic change in performance levels, preference for being alone, a seemingly reckless disposition, many a teenage suicide could be averted. SEVA with its team of trained volunteers has been helping people of the twin cities cope with personal problems since 1993. They provide counselling services at four centres, offer referral services, conduct training programmes in counselling and create awareness about relevant mental health issues. For more information visit www.sevacounselingcentre.org.

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