Eleven-year-old reality TV star Neha Sawant, was last week found hanging from the ceiling of her Mumbai home, apparently after her parents stopped her from participating in a dance show and pulled her out of dance classes so she could concentrate on studies.
India has been earning notoriety for reporting a high number of suicides every year. But rising cases of suicides by children is a recent phenomenon. Recently, three such shocking cases were reported in Mumbai, with one involving a girl below the age of 10.
Parents can play a crucial role in preventing such drastic steps by children. “Sudden behavioural changes such as the child becoming quiet and wanting to be aloof are spotable changes in kids who are inclining towards depression. Becoming nihilistic, talking about gloomy connotation and fearing the final outcome of an exam are prominent signs,” says Dr Deepak Raheja, psychotherapist, Hope Foundation.
At times, kids fear living more than death. In such a situation, parents can detect ‘paradox-paradox’ behaviour. “Irritability, lethargy and impaired sleep are the earliest symptoms, since low mood does not manifest too easily in children,” says Dr S Sudersanan, senior psychiatrist, BLK Memorial Hospital.
Depression doesn’t always indicate suicidal tendencies, but parents shouldn’t shy from seeking professional help. “Communicating is the key to overcome the situation, especially if the symptoms are consistently visible for three to four days. Parents must overreact and not under react as this is a condition of absolute alarm,” says Dr Raheja. Parents need to help the child overcome his frustration. Studies have proved that exploring the intent of suicide with children does not prompt the kid in attempting the same. “Kids who are not suicidal, brush away that query normally. While those who have been thinking on those lines break down and share,” adds Dr Raheja.
“Being supportive, giving kids time and avoiding comparisons are important. Also one needs to understand that any psychoanalytical drug will not make you an addict,” says Dr Sudersanan.