On 29 January, in a virtual press conference titled “The Shocking Upsurge in Suicide Cases among University Students: The Liability of Stakeholders,” organised by Aachol Foundation, it was revealed that 101 students from different colleges, universities and medical colleges died by suicide in 2021.
This study, as well as a senior citizen taking his own life and broadcasting his final moments live on social media has put the topic of mental health at the centre of everyone’s attention.
This spike in the number of suicide cases has experts concerned. Tawhida Shiropa, Founder and CEO of Moner Bondhu, has shared her thoughts with The Business Standard on this pressing matter.
Study showed that uncertainty of the future, career-related issues and social pressure are the underlying factors that lead to frustration and mental health struggles among students. What do you think about these reasons? Do you think a young student who just started his/her life should be worried about the issues mentioned?
Surely, during the pandemic, our youth has gone through a lot of uncertainty, but we neither expected nor prepared ourselves to see such a gruesome picture of losing 101 lives.
Not all the students who had died by suicide had a sound, financially solvent family or were entirely bothered by the issues mentioned.
Sometimes what we see is not exactly what we need.
More than their socio-economic state of affairs, the lack of sympathy and empathy had led them to take such a decision. I believe a little touch of empathy could have changed their whole trajectory for a few of them.
Our youth has grown up under extreme pressure and competitive surroundings, where they are always required to prove themselves. In such cases, parents are usually blamed for creating such a situation. Though they love their children unconditionally, they forget to understand their sentiments and they keep comparing their children with others.
So, if the children fail to prove themselves once, they start feeling low and subconsciously pick up the habit from their parents of comparing and they constantly practice this abhorrent habit through the use of social media. Indeed, the social class structure is a contributing factor too.
We have not learned how to develop our emotions from our childhood, so when a challenging situation occurs, instead of handling that tactfully, we become emotional. And when we are not emotionally stable, it affects our relationships too, which we have observed among today’s youth.
They tend to think whatever they are going through is the biggest problem on the earth. There is no argument that the problem is real in their lives, however, suppose we had the minimum emotional training then we might understand how to observe things tactfully. The pandemic has heightened challenges.
Five percent of our patients are senior citizens. Three percent of them come of their own volition to seek help for loneliness and depression; others visit us as their children or relatives recommend them to come to us. They [their children] do not understand that taking a doctor’s appointment or buying necessary things for them are not enough.
We need to spend time with them apart from those scheduled times. Otherwise, we are bound to face unwanted situations.
After 60, there is a tendency to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Hence, regular checkups and taking care of them is also very much necessary.
After all these, we still need community involvement, but unfortunately, we have portrayed the old home concept in a bad light. Instead of thinking of it as a place of community gathering, we consider this a place for abandoned people. Rather than have our elderly citizens live alone, we could celebrate the ‘old home concept’ as an idea of togetherness. But because of our social norms, we cannot appreciate what we have without criticising it.
If we could change this concept of criticising, our senior citizens could have a better place in the community to live together and enjoy a happy life. Once something terrible happens, we become concerned and reach out to our parents, but by that time, things become way more complex than we can fathom.
So, taking care of each other should be our habit, not a responsibility.