Three young girls in their teens. All three suspected of committing suicide, all occurring this month in the UAE.
As shocking as it is, this is also a reality that the UAE has been confronting year after year.
Worldwide too, youth suicides are on the increase.
According to a report released this year by America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates for persons aged 10-24 increased 56 per cent from 2007 to 2017 in the United States.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the regional trend of depression is highest in the UAE, at 5.1 per cent of the population.
This is beyond worrying. It is a challenge that needs urgent attention.
The triggers for suicidal thoughts among some young people are many and can range from pressures of studies, family problems to self-esteem challenges induced by social media and peer pressures.
Suicide, irrespective of the age of the individual who commits it, is inarguably an outcome of a mental health problem and in the young, it demands an unflagging attention as the young are not fully capable of understanding or controlling their mental impulses and vulnerabilities
And as mental health experts have stressed time and again, the triggers do not emerge overnight.
The distress signals are emitted over weeks, perhaps months, and parents and schools must be uncompromisingly vigilant, and keenly tuned, to react to them at the very first instance.
As mental experts in the UAE emphasise, parents and schools must necessarily establish a very low threshold to spot the red flags, or signs of distress. In other words, even the smallest of signs must be attended to, if need be by seeking professional help, rather than attributing the teen’s unusual behaviour to the blanket reason of hormonal teenage mood swings, as is the wont in many corners of society. As a preventive measure, the value of such parental vigilance is incalculable. It can, literally, make the difference between life and death.
Suicide, irrespective of the age of the individual who commits it, is inarguably an outcome of a mental health problem and in the young, it demands an unflagging attention as the young are not fully capable of understanding or controlling their mental impulses and vulnerabilities. In all of the cases in the UAE of teenagers who jumped off high-rises or otherwise ended their lives, the sub-text as it emerged was of unresolved mental issues.
Would there have been a different outcome for these teenagers had the red flags been spotted in time by their parents, schools? The sooner such questions are prevented from ended up as rhetoric, as afterthoughts, the more hope there will be for teenagers in distress.