“On the night of October 7th, 2005, the lives of Peter D’Souza and Elizabeth D’Souza were changed forever when they discovered that their thirteen year old son, Kevin had committed suicide by hanging.
Traumatized by the horrific and tragic situation they’d been thrown into, the parents of Kevin searched desperately for answers as to why their son would feel so lost, that he felt suicide was his only option.
Kevin had been described as a lovely child, who was able to always make people smile. Why such a sweet and happy seeming child would commit suicide, was a huge mystery to all.
And here’s the truth, the bitter narration which will leave you all in a bitter taste. Kevin was a victim of intense bullying from his schoolmates leading him to confess a fear of going back to school. His parents advocated the seemingly-reasonable approach of talking to the principal, an idea opposed by Kevin who feared it would make matters worse. However, unbeknownst to his parents, the bullying continued. Comments were made about his sexuality and even his close friends joined in telling others he was no less than a joker. It was ultimately too much for Kevin to bear and he killed himself at the tender age of thirteen”.
“There was yet another case of a young teenage girl taking out her life being a victim of cyber bullying. She was found hanging in her bedroom by her sister with the legs dangling and the ghastly eyes open, the teenager was a very bubbly girl who fall prey to a sick mind who abused her online, hid behind a mask of anonymity and attacked this vulnerable teenager to an extent of taking her life”.
“Bekon Smith committed suicide by walking into the path of a truck. Prior to the incident, she had scheduled a post on her public Tumbler page to go live after her death. In her final message, Bekon stated “my death has to mean something”. She wrote about her struggles as a young transgender teen, detailing her wish to live as a woman with her parents, who had denied her request, claiming it to be an insult to God. The post broke the hearts of thousands of readers, who actively shared the message in order to publicize the tragedy. After her death, Bekon’s mother still refused to use female pronouns for her daughter and would only refer to her by her given name of Bekon. She also refused to allow Bekon’s best friend, who had supported her decision to live as a woman, to attend the funeral”
The above case studies are our attempt to raise awareness on the issue of suicide of children and teens.
Suicide is a difficult subject to address. There are far too many tragic stories of people who felt the only way to escape their troubles were to take their own lives. When the people at the center of these events are children, the dreadful emotions we feel are amplified. Well hear the truth there are much more of the shocking motives and piteous stories of children who ended their own lives, horrifically from as young as 6 years old!
Suicide among teens and children often happens after a stressful life event, such as problems at school, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a major family conflict. So it’s important for parents to know the warning signs so teens who might be suicidal can get the help they need. Some adults feel that kids who say they are going to hurt or kill themselves are “just doing it for attention.” It’s important to realize that if teens are ignored when seeking attention; it may increase the chance of them harming themselves (or worse).
Keep a close eye on a child who is depressed and withdrawn. Understanding depression in teens is very important since it can look different from commonly held beliefs about depression. For example, it may take the form of problems with friends, grades, sleep, or being cranky and irritable rather than chronic sadness or crying. It’s important to try to keep the lines of communication open and express your concern, support, and love. If your teen confides in you, show that you take those concerns seriously. A fight with a friend might not seem like a big deal to you in the larger scheme of things, but for a child/teen it can feel immense and consuming. It’s important not to minimize or discount what your teen/child is going through, as this can increase his or her sense of hopelessness.
Most teens interviewed after making a suicide attempt say that they did it because they were trying to escape from a situation that seemed impossible to deal with or to get relief from really bad thoughts or feelings.
There’s a thin difference between child and teen suicide. Child suicides aren’t like teen or adult suicides, which usually start with an idea, proceed with a plan, and end with action. Suicide among children is more likely to be spontaneous and less connected to psychiatric disorder or aggression. This is often reflected in the method: Instead of hanging or cutting or using a gun, “suicidal” kids tend to kill themselves by doing things their parents have warned them against, such as running into traffic or jumping out of a window. Children who kill themselves often have a mood disorder, ADHD, or a “conduct disorder,” which basically means antisocial behavior. Living an in abusive household can lay the groundwork for suicidal behavior, and an incident like getting kicked out of school or a dying relative can trigger it.
Often parents discuss death; suicide etc in front of children, what they don’t realize is that it can create a deep impact on the immature mind. Do not discuss these dark topics in front of the child/teen. They are too young and vulnerable to understand. The child might think it as a fun and even before you realize the child is gone the same was the American child smothered himself to death trying to fidget with the hook that hung his shirt.
Please raise awareness, please stop suicide among children and teens for you won’t realize how much it feels to be sad every single day without your child even when you experience joy, for it’s the goodbyes which hurt the most when the stories aren’t finished, for you parent will never understand until it happens with you, for it’s the child you will miss when you are breathing.
Save a Child, save the Nation. Make the world a better place to live.
Note: These are case studies, name changed to protect identity
Subject to Copyright
The other day, I was walking past the corridor on my way home from work. As soon as I walked past the elevator, a huge cardboard box caught my sight. I was curious about what might have been wrapped inside! It was written shoe-stand with shoes :). I thought our new neighbors might have shipped stuff from the middle east. Because of curiosity again, I tried to peep inside the box. And guess what! I discovered a young boy hiding inside with his hands and legs folded. He somehow managed to fit himself inside the box. I became alert. I pulled him out. Thought he might be with a gang of friends playing ‘Hide and Seek’. I started talking to the boy.
– Are you hiding from your friends? Playing hide-and-seek?
– Why are you sitting inside this box? Where are your friends?
– They are playing inside the house.
– What? Why are you here alone? Let me take you to your friends.
We rang the bell. There were 3-4 kids in my neighbor’s house. The leader mentioned that they do not play with young kids. And that’s an instruction from his parents. I understood now that the boy was sad and the box was his cocoon shelter. Can you please play with him outside for sometime? “No auntie, he has damaged a flower pot already”. And they all came out and showed a pot that the boy had kicked in a fit of rage and damaged! There was some spill over soil to testify their fact! I looked at the boy, and his sadness had increased. He murmured softly that he already said “Sorry” to the team of elder kids. And told that he kicked the pot because he was left out of the games. “Don’t you have other friends to play with?” To this he mentioned that his age kids usually return little late from school, and come late for playing.
My only option was to safely take the boy to his house. But the I decided to spend some time with him. I talked to him, tried to instill some life skills. The only reason was that I wanted to see him happy. Here are my 5-tips that helped the bullied boy:
1. Listened to his story: I gained the trust of the boy as I offered to listen to him. I took him to the house of the elder kids, and tried to solve his problem. I discussed with him various options, and offered solutions. But most importantly, I listened patiently. It’s a common suggestion to parents when their kid becomes a victim of bullying.
2. Made him aware of his mistake: I took the boy near the flowering pot. I explained to him that plants are living objects. And that he must say sorry to the plant for having kicked it. The boy did what I asked. I mean he really stood before the plant and said sorry in all earnestness. He was aware of his behavior. He promised that he will not hurt others just because he is angry or sad.
3. Helped him to come out of sadness: My conversation with the boy helped him come out of his sadness. As we discussed options of play for him, he came out with the idea of going back home to his mother, spend time doing painting, and come out to the play area in the evening when his other friends would be around!
4. Directed him to his safety net: The boy was hiding inside the cardboard box. Somebody could have easily pushed it to the side and he would have got hurt. Luckily that was not the case and he was not hurt. I showed him the way to his safety net i.e. his home.
5. Imparted him the SHIFT-skills: Overall, I had to quickly ensure that his confidence does not take a hit, and help with a strategy to overcome the rejection and mild bullying that he encountered. First was to help him Show confidence, to be able to Handle emotions, to learn to Ignore bullies and Find good friends, and to confide in a Trusted adult are the skills to be imparted to victims of bullying. I explained to the boy that if the elder kids do not want to play with him, he must move on and find good friends of his age. And that he must discuss this incident with his trusted adults.
Bullying is such a common phenomenon that all of us see it around us. Kids can become victims and perpetrators of bullying without really consciously being aware of it. Some are mild forms of bullying, and some are severe. Either way, the victim does go through rejection, sadness, and can lose confidence. And we have to get them out of it and help them come out of it.
“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try”- John F. Kennedy. I hope I tried the right way to pull out a kid of his danger zone…
The first teachers we have in our lives are our parents. They teach us to feed ourselves, to speak, take baby steps and learn to walk, ride a bike, know the environment, and many more. They even teach their kids the values of friendship, empathy, social skills, and emotion regulation. They are no doubt the best teachers for their kids.
Some parents argue that other than the traditional school curriculum, like science, arts etc, school has a limited role to play in the overall well-being of kids. The other day there were differences in opinion in an well known parenting group. The debate was on “Whether preschools should provide lessons on abuse to kids”. Few parents were of the opinion that such sensitive issues can be discussed better by parents! I personally know parents who feel that abuse should be discussed with girl child only. In this era, where there are daily reports of abuse of kids in the media. Is this not the time to spread awareness through schools, malls, apartment associations, and various social medias? As we know that prevention is better than cure, why cannot the society be little liberal in discussing such issues?
I was invited by an International School to address kids on “The use of TV and Gadgets“. I oriented the kids towards the “20-20-20” rule. The kids learnt that every 20 minutes, they should gaze through the window (spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away). Also, they promised not to indulge in TV and Gadgets for more than 2 hours daily. The kids enjoyed the session. There were many kids who wanted to meet me after the session to discuss their queries. I remember one question by a young kid: “My grandmother wears spectacles, even then she always sits close to the TV. What should I do?” There were many such interesting questions. I was glad that they understood the benefits/drawbacks of TV and gadgets. I was sure that many of those kids would adhere to the 2 hrs duration. This was something that they learnt in school. I am sure parents also try to restrict the TV and gadget time of their kids. But that is mainly by enforcing a strict discipline. How many parents would teach about the drawbacks using games, and medical facts?
Bullying is another topic that requires attention. Due to changing trends of the society, kids are overprotected. Many of them are not exposed to the adversities of life. They become vulnerable when bullied, also some enjoy to bully the weak ones. Our society has a reservation towards seeking the help of psychologists. I personally know parents who contacted me to connect to a psychologist for their kid who was regularly bullied at the play area, and facing low self-esteem. They contacted the psychologist but were willing for counseling sessions over phone, without revealing the identity. When we have so much concerns, why do we not equip our kids the skills to handle such situations before an actual scenario pops up?
The most important thing to realize is that we all have many teachers in our lives. Our parents teach us, our teachers also teach us, our peers books, newspapers, television, ipads, environment also teach us. All of them are valuable in their own ways! As parents we should identify our strengths and weaknesses, and seek help from experts whenever required. We have to remember that parents are the first teachers in the life of their kids, but they are not always the best teachers….
“Parents can only give good advice or put kids in the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”… Anne Frank