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Blue Whale Challenge: The real challenge is one of effectively tackling mental health problems

The increasing number of teenage suicides in the country is a confirmation of the long speculated belief that children are becoming more and more isolated in this connected-by-technology age. It is vitally important that we reduce the stigma and taboos associated with mental health conditions, and provide adequate help, especially to children and teenagers

editorials Updated: Aug 17, 2017 17:41 IST
Hindustan Times
Blue Whale Challenge,mental health,suicide
As more and more children grow up surrounded by technology; and spend more and more time by themselves solely in the company of their gadgets, they tend to become isolated and lonely(AP)

After another teenager committed suicide in Kerala, the inspector general of police of the state, commenting on the possibility that the suicide could be linked to the online Blue Whale Challenge, has made a statement that “The Blue Whale game or challenge is a psychological game; which does not have an effect on all kids, but only selected ones with low mental stability”. While the IG is right in his observation that children with certain vulnerabilities are more prone to succumb to the challenge online, simply passing the buck on to parents and asking them to be “more strict” with their kids is not a solution.

The increasing number of teenage suicides in the country is a confirmation of the long speculated belief that children are becoming more and more isolated in this connected-by-technology age. As more and more children grow up surrounded by technology; and spend more and more time by themselves solely in the company of their gadgets, they tend to become isolated and lonely. It is these children that become vulnerable to such online threats. While it is important for parents, teachers, friends and other caregivers to be vigilant for signs of mental disturbance, surveillance or “strictness” may not be the answer. Mental health issues can be exacerbated by an overuse of authority.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in India, the burden of mental health problems is to the tune of 2,443 DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) per 100,000 population. The WHO also estimates that India faces an economic loss of $ 1.03 trillion between 2012 and 2030, due to mental health conditions. It is vitally important that we reduce the stigma and taboos associated with mental health conditions, and provide adequate help, especially to children. The needs and problems of adolescents and young adults, if ignored at that stage, could affect the quality of their life as adults. Every attempt at suicide – successful or otherwise – is a cry for help and should be recognised as such.

First Published: Aug 17, 2017 15:45 IST