Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Committing Suicide At A Young Age

image by nicothein, sxc.hu

Don't Make Suicide An Option For The Child

Nobody knows yet, least of all the mother and the elder sister, as to why young, 14-year-old ninth grader Girish jumped on the railway track in time for a running train to crush his head. His body was found the next day, mutilated, parts eaten by stray dogs. (Here is the story as it has unfolded so far: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Student-ends-life-on-rail-tracks/articleshow/6470917.cms.)

Photo of J Girish, the boy who committed suicide in Bangalore recently_*

* Photo of J Girish, the boy who committed suicide in Bangalore recently.

From all accounts, the child was a good student who had to attend extra tuitions to cope with the subjects of math and science. The respective subject teachers had conducted class tests a couple of weeks ago, and he had failed in both the subjects. The day he committed suicide also happened to be the day when the next test was scheduled.

image by tv-mix, sxc.hu

Girish was the younger of the two-sibling family. His sister is just a couple of years older. They lost their father about ten years ago. The family has been getting by from the tailoring contract that the mother and sole breadwinner has with a garment manufacturing company. The tensions of running a family on low budget all these years, without the shoulder and support of the intimate partner, coupled with the demands of growing, teenage children, must have been too much for the mother to bear. Add to this the perceived poor performance of the son, which in fact led to the added burden of the extra tuition costs. It would not be out of place for the mother to be harsh to the child, chiding him and exhorting him to improve performance. In a society that lays a lot of importance to academic performance, failures in tests are a matter of shame and guilt. So was Girish a victim of excessive parental pressure? Was suicide Girish's way of telling his mom that he was finding the expectation of the mother from him in excelling in subjects that he does not like, just too much? That he knew, in the core of his heart, that he will flunk the next test too, tuition or no tuition? And suicide was the only option available to him in order to escape the guilt of not being able to meet the expectations?

image by lie_one, sxc.hu

We are often quite thoughtless about the quality of interaction we have with the members of our family; because we take them for granted. Well, they are always there, always around. You do not have to be on your guard all the time with them, do you? And if you have to be on your guard all the time, and that too in the informal confines of your home, then pray tell what happens to the closeness and the intimacy and the bonding? While we all need the informal banality and the banter and the bonhomie that closeness in relationships provides, the fact that the family members are "always there" does not really give us an unlimited license to project our anxieties and stresses and pressures and irritations onto them. Especially the family members, who are vulnerable and helpless, such as the children. It is not uncommon for a parent to barge into the house after a very tough day in the office, and immediately start abusing and painting black-and-blue the one object in the house which can bear the brunt of all their pent-up frustration and anger without retaliating back: the child. Do it continuously, and the child either grows to become a delinquent at the worst, or an emotionally scarred, permanently unhappy human being at the least. Or, as in the case of Girish, the child will not wait to grow up, it will find deliverance in suicide.

image by creactions, sxc.hu

Do go easy on the child. You did not give birth to the children so that they serve as your punching bag. Don't treat the child like a punching bag to vent the frustrations and problems in your life. There are better ways to handle your problems.

image by tizwas01, sxc.hu

[Children always have their eyes and ears open to what is going on in the household. If they do not understand fully what is going on, they try to make sense of it using their limited knowledge and abundant imagination. And even if they are short on facts and data, they are experts in the intuition department, and can immediately and quite easily distinguish between the "good" and the "not-so-good" vibes floating in the air. As this article discusses, the children absorb these vibes without discrimination: "Children are Like Sponge".]

image by access_yog, sxc.hu

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