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Updated: December 20, 2013 20:12 IST

You are not alone

BHUMIKA K.
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Not so bleak: When friends lend a helping hand. Photo: K.R. Deepak
The Hindu Not so bleak: When friends lend a helping hand. Photo: K.R. Deepak

Speak Out Reach Out, a campaign against suicide among school and college students, takes off today in Bangalore. Classmates will be trained as peer counsellors to help friends in distress

With the end of the academic year, and exams soon approaching, what is also imminent, it seems, is the number of students in distress. With each day bringing in news of suicides by young students — either because their parents scolded them, asked them to study, they felt they did not do well in exams, or felt guilty that they didn't live up to their parents' expectations, or their own.

A worried lot of educationists, counsellors, psychologists, NGOs in the city are putting their thoughts and resources together to organise “Speak Out Reach Out”, a campaign among school and college-going children, against suicide.

The campaign takes off today, December 21, at St. Aloysius Degree College. About 200 students from 15 schools in the city will be part of this first eight-hour training module today. More such sessions will be held for interested schools who want to be part of the campaign before final exams begin.

Bangalore Multi-Purpose Social Service Society, with St. Aloysius Degree College, Vimochana, Parivarthan, Sampurna Montfort College, NIMHANS and a host of other organisations have come together to train class representatives of Class 10 of different schools in the city. Next they will train II PUC students.

“At a recent workshop conducted for around 12 colleges in the city, what students shared was revealing — many of them had attempted suicide, some had seen their friends get depressed and attempt it. So we thought we should start a campaign to help students live their lives. We felt it was an important decision to offer intervention before and during exams,” says Fr. Ambrose Pinto, who is spearheading this initiative.

“There is a stigma among students attached to approaching school counsellors for help. But students are willing to talk to their friends. So we felt that training about five students for every 50 students in Class 10 to begin with, would help.

Counsellors will train these student representatives, ideally the class representatives, to identify someone who may be depressed, to draw them into a group of friends to share their feelings, train them to listen, and also offer some intervention,” says Fr. Pinto.

Bangalore is witnessing an increasing number of suicides of the young. Most of them are from the final year of schooling, Pre-University and degree colleges, the group organising the campaign has observed. “Some of them give up their lives because of failure in examinations, others due to guilt and some others due to failure in love. With the increase in stress, students are prone to pressure and depression. They are unable to accept corrections and face humiliations.”

“Next we will be training subject teachers, so they can mentor them, so that peer counsellors and students can approach them for help. And in the next phase we hope to involve parents too,” says Fr. Pinto.

Schools interested in knowing more about these training sessions, and to participate in future sessions can contact Fr. Pinto on 25466393 or email principalsac01@gmail.com

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