What you need to know:
- Mental health is an issue that deserves care and attention.
- We need to help those with suicidal thoughts and feelings.
It is crucial to identify suicidal tendencies in vulnerable individuals, especially in teenagers and young adults who are more vulnerable to depression (“Indian student commits suicide for ‘failure’ to get a job”, Gulf News, July 4). This has a lot to do with factors including parental pressures and unrealistic expectations set by educational institutions.
While statistics have shown that places in the West and East have similar rates of death by suicides, the factors that drive people to such extreme measures most of the time are distinctly separate. People have different issues troubling them. Financial burdens, poverty, marital discord, and other social and cultural demands mostly factor into the suicidal cases in the South Asian and Indian subcontinent. Having said this, there could be many factors that contribute to a person choosing to take their life.
Among teenagers, the parental demands and high expectations set for children on academic performance often takes a severe toll on their overall sense of wellbeing. The fear of failure is a big obstacle that it cripples their capacity to think rationally. Also, peer pressure comes into play in alienating some students who lack in academic performance at schools, or in rare cases the financial equalities among the youth might lead to children from poor families going through extreme disappointment.
Although educational institutions in the West are better equipped with psychological experts and counselling centres, it is not the same with most Asian systems, where the budget and funding for such facilities are not present.
If there is anything that is working as a deterrent to suicidal tendencies in Asian countries, it is the spiritual element that is predominantly characterised by religious faiths in which the population often take refuge. While the Western world have their faith systems, after the industrial revolution, the influence of religious institutions has been on the wane. However, the idea of seeking spiritual solace in times of trouble has been replaced with professional counselling or forming self-help and support groups, and even resorting to the practice of meditation and yoga.
It is important to recognise the signs. A state of severe depression and mood swings, a sense of hopelessness, withdrawal from social relationships, all or some of these behaviours may constitute classic symptoms of depression and suicidal tendencies in people.
In countries inhabited by a large number of expats, just as in this part of the world, people are away from their family and home towns. This can increase isolation and a sense of alienation. So, it is significant that a support mechanism is established to help ease the psychological burdens such individuals might go through. In the absence of relatives or family members for quick access, friends and colleagues have a bigger role to play in helping each other in times of crisis through collective efforts. The Human Resources department of companies should pay attention to employee morale.
- The reader is a resident of Dubai.