On March 15, a 13-year-old girl in Satna, exasperated by constant stalking and harassment by a youth from the same village, set herself on fire in a bid to commit suicide. She luckily survived.
But not all children who decide to take the extreme step in the state turn out to be lucky.
In 2013 alone, 349 children below the age of 14 years committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh – the highest number in the country. The recently released National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report for 2013 shows 191 boys and 158 girls committed suicide in MP, a good 71 more children compared to 2012.
This jump in the children’s suicide figures put MP on the top spot in the perturbing trend chart in the country. In 2012, MP was placed fourth in matters of children’s suicide. In the course of last five years, 1,830 children committed suicide in MP, of them 972 were boys.
Experts are unanimous that nowadays, children become aware of their surroundings and circumstances at a far younger age than even a decade ago and many of them are unable to handle the resultant mental trauma.
Psychologist Vinay Mishra says that dismally low number of mental health professionals and very sketchy arrangements of counsellors at school level leave children with little option to vent their feelings. Also, parents do not even consider that there might be fault with their parenting and thus do not seek any help, worsens the matter.
Chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights (SCPCR) Usha Chaturvedi says that she has been noticing the trend and had even issued directives to government not to embarrass the children caught using unfair means in exams publicly. But, overall, she says, the family should be taking concrete measures to ensure emotional security for the children, something which is totally lacking in broken families.
Rolly Shivhare of NGO Vikas Samvad said education system in the country is as responsible as parents in keeping children under permanent stress. Emotionally weak girls also tend to react more fatalistically to harassments.
Health awareness classes proposed: Minister
The minister of state for school education, Deepak Joshi said the government is aware of the stress level felt by children and the poor support of many families in this regard. “We are considering launching of health awareness classes, inclusive of mental health elements, for at least an hour in a week, from the next academic session,” he said.