‘Pre-results suicides worrying’

Experts concerned; 2 students killed themselves this month

March 23, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 08:03 am IST - CHENNAI:

It’s that time of the year when TV viewing takes a hit and the midnight oil burns, in preparation of examinations.

But it’s also the time of the year when stress levels rise, both among students and parents. This month alone, at least two school students have committed suicide, possibly fearing their examination results.

Experts say the pre-results period too should be focused on to try and de-stress and help students. Parents should also teach children coping mechanisms.

“The suicides at this time are a cause for concern. The number of student suicides in Chennai has been dropping, with 24 last year and 50 the year before that. But now, even before the results are out, we have had suicides. This shows we have to shift our emphasis from the post-results period to the pre-results period and help and counsel students,” says Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder, Sneha suicide prevention centre.

Tragically, Dr. Vijayakumar says, there are many cases where students attempt suicide as a cry for help. Even though they do not intend to go through with the act, the means they use result in death.

“This tends to happen when students use poison,” she says.

Coping mechanisms are crucial during this period, and parents must step in to help, says V. Jayanthini, city-based child psychiatrist.

“Students generally commit suicide for two reasons — they know they have not done well in their exams, or they think they will not get the marks they want. Parental pressure is one factor, but even when it is not there, there is immense peer pressure. Students also pressure themselves to do extraordinarily well. They need to be motivated to cope with an outcome they may not be happy with,” she says.

Dr. Jayanthini says parents need to show children how to overcome distressing events, accept situations that do not work in their favour and move on. “Children are so used to instant gratification now, that their tolerance levels for frustration are minimal,” she says.

Focusing on a child’s strengths, emphasising not marks or achievements but mastery of a skill, and explaining to youngsters there are opportunities galore, are some of the things parents can do help children get through this stressful period, says Sangeetha Madhu, clinical psychologist.

“Children have to be equipped to face challenges head on and parents need to be there to lend a helping hand. The bigger issue is our system — one that places so much value on marks — and this needs urgent change. But, until then, parents must not gauge children on their marks and tell them exams are not the be-all and end-all of everything,” she says.

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