Q: What should a parent do when they notice tell-tale signs (see box: ‘Signs…’) in children?
A: The parents should be compassionate and take the child to a psychiatrist or counsellor for a mental health check-up. They should ensure that the child eats and sleeps regularly and his or her diet is healthy. The parents should not enforce a strict daily schedule. They should keep a close watch on the child’s homework habits, academic performance, behaviour with friends and conversations, in general.
What are the more long-term signs of depression that might lead to suicidal thoughts?
A: Losing concentration, forgetting important events, bullying, dressing shabbily, sulking, snapping and excessive weight gain are some signs. A good way to deal with early stress is to train children to deal with bad news from when they are very young. Encourage them to talk about their failures, accept them, see if there are ways to improve and move on.
Q: When can parents talk to their children about suicide? Many of them seem to be familiar with it at a very young age because of their exposure to various media.
A: Let your child bring up the topic. Don’t brush it aside and get anxious when they do. Take some time to sit down and ask them what they think about it. Explain the concept of death to them. Discuss reasons that lead to the suicide and discuss solutions about how to deal with difficult situations. Avoid blaming those who have committed suicide.