The other day I got to know that a young lad who lived in my neighbourhood had committed suicide. It wasn’t the first time I was hearing about a suicide. Of course, we hear and read about suicides and their increasing rates so much these days that it has stopped to shock us anymore. But when something like this happens in your vicinity, the impact of it is at a different level altogether. So, this time around it wasn’t anymore only a news item to me. Such a piece of news that talks about the details like what propelled it, what was the exact hour when it happened and how far the police investigation reached. Rather, this particular information sounded to me more like an alarm that warns us of the wrong direction that we all are heading in. According to the website Scroll.in “India has one of the world’s highest rate of suicides among people aged between 15 years and 29 years. Each year, between 30 and 40 people per 100,000 Indians aged between 15 and 29 kill themselves. This accounts for about a third of all suicides in the country.”
Of course, the agony of a suicide and that of his family, which is even more, cannot be comprehended and left unacknowledged but what needs to be done is a deeper analysis of the reason that makes feel a victim that end of the life is the only option left.
There could be all sorts of lucid, obscure, social, political, and occupational reasons behind suicides. For example farmers may do it for a particular reason, a fashion model might do it for another or a police constable may do it for another reason altogether. Any suicide in itself can be called an epitome of gloom and darkness but when someone as young as barely or barely above 12 or 13 or 15 does that, it means hopelessness. And hopelessness is in direct contrast with childhood and youth. What make children, children and youth the future of the world is the amount hope their hearts hold.
Parenting beyond diet and luxuries
Being a mother myself of a five year old, I know a mother remains obsessed with her child’s health and education. Whether I go to drop or pick-up my son from school or I go to a birthday party or to a wedding or to market or to some other place or at some other occasion, the only conversations I have with fellow moms are about homework, uniform, school, tiffin, playtime, rest time, bathing time, story time, sibling rivalry, language classes, summer camps, dance classes, art and craft, mall trip, out station holidays, toys, birthdays, return gifts full stop. Never do I get to talk or hear about character building and emotional strength or a topic somewhere even near to that.
If we as parents are part of a society where a child or a teen thinks of ending his life we are doing something terrible wrong that we ought to figure out and fix. On the face of it, we want to do everything right and grand for our children right from their day one in this world of ours. We take excessive care of our children in terms of their diet, vaccination, education, career, life insurance policies, birthday parties, return gifts. But even after doing all of that if we fail to make our children happy and content we need to dig a bit deeper, which these days less and less are interested in. May be it is high time we nourish our children’s emotional health and well-being and lay stress at their character building with the same amount of zeal that we show by regulating nutrients in their diet such as proteins, vitamins, minerals and supplements.
A motivated mind hardly loses track
We all are aware that succumbing to circumstances and situations could be boiled down to being the primary cause of suicides. But doing that is a clear sign of weakness. And for this reason we must educate and train our children to be optimistic enough to consider the most difficult situations as most interesting challenges for if not a win they’ll definitely give a lesson.
However, suicides aren’t merely a result of emotional vulnerability they are also a result of psychological deconditioning and decline in motivation. That belief in yourself that you are capable of contributing to this society in a way that no else does is the ultimate motivation that youth should have. They shouldn’t just live long and healthy life but a happy and purposeful life.
We are living in a times where icons are being replaced with celebrities and leaders with politicians. The kind of life we humans are leading isn’t only leading to paucity of natural resources, but that of idols as well. I noticed that when I had recently been to my son’s annual day programme in his school where kids performed on patriotic songs. It was strange to notice how in past seven decades post-independence we have failed to make any substantial additions to the list of the leaders, visionaries and icons consisting the likes of Gandhi, Nehru, Shastri and Ambedkar, Tagore, Vivekanand. What’s all the more sad is that we, either as parents or as youth, don’t even feel the need of making fresh entries to the list, let alone working in that direction.
Violent kids and unmindful parents are so (un)cool!
Topics such as morality, social responsibility and spirituality are considered inessential, redundant and turn offs. Contemporary moms and dads prefer to be cool and hap. Who cares about the cost or need of a thing that a child demands? And why should one if one has the spending power? Who has time to notice the trend violence and frustration in children that is evident in their acts of aggression such as hitting, pushing and snatching things from other fellow children? A child who doesn’t reciprocate a push with a push and a punch with a punch isn’t considered smart enough to face the world outside, which we consider is cruel and insensitive.But by doing so what we don’t realise is that it is nothing else but a reflection of our own apathy and insensitivity that we want to save our children from. Like it was well quoted, “It is not our job to toughen our children to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
Confident on stage but coward in life
We seem to be so desperate to make our kids confident beings who never shy away from performing on stage or in a race or in a competition that we do not ever give a thought as to whether we have made our children comfortable in their own skins that they can perform well in real life situations as well. We inculcate in our kids table manners but not the courage to table their thoughts and fears and concerns. We are so engrossed in making our children being able to achieve success in life that we forget altogether to teach them to embrace their failures with equal ownership for unless they do so they would devoid themselves of important lessons in life.
Beauty beyond bed of roses
We try our level best and beyond to make our children’s life a bed of roses and in the process we end up destituting them with of the opportunities to sail through difficult situations. We must not forget ourselves and let our children understand that the real beauty of life lies not in comfort but in beautifully dealing with the odds, which brings out the best in you. We teach our children to say thank you to people who bring them gifts on birthdays but we forget to tell our children the value of the most beautiful gift that they could ever get, which is called life. Life is beautiful. Life is precious theirs and others’.
Make trust the bond
We may choose to have different equations with our kids at different times depending on the demand of the situation like during exams we can be that strict master and at some other time we can be that cool friend that our kids have always wanted us to be. But amidst those fluctuating equations what needs to remain constant is the faith our children have in us. And the onus of the responsibility that children find their parents trust worthy lies on parents. There may or may not be any tips and tricks for it. But if we want our children open up themselves to us, we as parents have to make their way up to their hearts.
Don’t let ‘no’ exotic, make it staple
Recently, there was this beautiful epilogue delivered by Amitabh Bachchan in the movie ‘Pink,’ where we got to understand the meaning of ‘no,’ in a different context altogether. But this ‘no’ in the present context would be a word that we like to keep so exotic for our children that they don’t want to accept it when life throws it at them; and life does it bountifully. They get so habitual of ‘yeses’ and ‘yes sirs’ that a no seems to them end of the world. We should include a decent share of ‘nos’ in our child’s upbringing so that reasons frivolous as a no to a bike or a no to a play station or a no to a date doesn’t become a cause of suicide. For that matter, ‘no’ reason in the world qualifies to become a cause of suicide no matter how compelling it may look at that moment because moments are going to pass. And that passing moment is a part of life and not life itself.
Besides, it’s normal to feel low, off and even devastated at times. But it’s dumb to commit suicide when all you need to bring life on track is a change of perspective and a breath of fresh air.