No one can forget the controversial Blue Whale game, which was developed in Russia, which instigated teenagers to take their own lives.
The game brought the matter of suicide to the front of the media and families. It showed how vulnerable our teenagers were in the hands of technology. Clearly, the mental health of teenagers is at risk.
In 2020, the World Suicide Prevention Day was observed with a pledge to reduce the number of suicides significantly. The number of such avoidable deaths is deplorable.
Different media platforms, educational institutions, counselling centres and corporate offices are becoming aware of mental health issues. Helplines are working 24/7 to support people who are suffering from suicidal thoughts.
There are numerous courses on mental health that are available online. However, teenagers who are under pressure, both academically and socially, struggle to find a way out easily.
Often, experts suggest that you can track down the suicidal symptoms in a person. Easier said than done!
More often, people with suicidal thoughts may hide their stress behind smiles and behave as naturally as ever.
To prevent suicide, as parents, we need to act proactively. Teachers and friends have a huge role to play in this regard as well. Everyone must try to understand the sorrow and sufferings of our loved ones and help them overcome them.
Educating yourself on mental health issues can help in dealing with teenagers who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. Due attention should be given to the language being used while handling matters related to suicide.
Often we use words like "you will get over this," "it is just a phase," or "you are just seeking attention," and forget to ask them questions that might lead to finding the root causes. Anyway, at the end of the queries, you can say, "Let's try to keep you safe," or "I am glad you have shared your thoughts with us", etc.
But there is a common problem with teenagers; they feel both ashamed and perhaps guilty while sharing their feelings.
Parents must be open with their kids. They often find it difficult to talk about sensitive issues with teenagers. So, they should create an environment at home where both parents and teenagers can share their thoughts.
Both parents and children must freely talk about anxiety, depression, etc. which are responsible for cultivating suicidal thoughts in the latter's minds. When they are young, they are naive.
They may indulge in experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Here, if the parents intervene at the primary stage and make children aware of their dark sides, it can help the teenager from ruining their lives.
Besides, preventive measures must be taken alongside. The flipside of the coin is, listening. Listen to their troubles with full attention. Do not just listen to their replies.
Understand each of their words and try to reach the depth of the things that aggrieve them. A good mentor's role in this regard is also very significant.
In the parent-teacher meetings, always discuss the child's overall progress, not merely academic matters. They go to schools to learn something new and to socialise, not just to sit for routine tests.
For the teenagers' well-being, teach them how to find their strengths and weaknesses. This is appropriate for both the bright ones and the mediocre ones.
The backbenchers of your class might have some unique talents, therefore, the teachers must guide them to help them realise their latent talent.
Avoid bullying them if they are wrong or less worthy. Everyone must remember that a teenager does not want to take his life over a trivial matter. He does it when he cannot find the solution to his problem or for an issue that feels beyond his control.
Finding the purpose of life is a long and enduring process. Often teenagers who are contemplating suicide lack purpose.
In this crucial time, your genuine interest in them can develop in them a sense of belonging. They will feel that their lives matter.
The way out is not easy. It will take time and sincere effort and prayers. Our teenagers have a promising and bright future ahead of them. No one can deny that. They need encouragement and support and need to know that in this battle against suicide, their loved ones are beside them.
Those who have attempted suicide once, you as a parent need to support them even after the crisis. Be empathetic.
Save the National Suicide Prevention number on your phone for emergencies. The number is 1-800-273-8255.
Anika Tasneem is a freelance contributor