Satyamev Jayate - Jinhe Desh Ki Fikr Hai

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Exclusive videos and articles from Team Satyamev Jayate which travelled across the country to bring you these stories.


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What’s troubling our youth?

Bridging the gap

Mikhail, 17, committed suicide when he could not cope with the pressure of performing well in his class 12 examinations. It was not parental pressure, but his own fear of failure and rejection. Mini, 16, committed suicide when she could not accept the fact that she hadn’t got admission into the college of her choice. These young lives might have been saved if they had been diagnosed at the right time. In a shocking revelation, a 2008 report from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says that 16,000 students committed suicide between 2004 and 2006. And the most potent cause is academic failure.

According to Johnson Thomas, founder of Aasra, a suicide helpline in Mumbai, the most suicide-prone age is that of 15–30 years. It counts as the most productive years of one's life, but also an age group which suffers from self-doubt and stress. “The age of 15–30 is the cusp of adulthood and from 15–24, you go through a series of examinations, because of which your expectations are higher, peer pressure is at its highest, and parental and societal approval and expectations matter a lot to most. Many students are scared because of this and think about suicide too.”

The reasons are not only related to the stress of exams, but also the way globalization has affected Indian society as well. Johnson thinks that today, parents have less time for their children. “India is in a transition phase—nuclear families and joint families are breaking. Many parents have no time, the upbringing of children is such that they get material support from parents and not emotional support,” he says.

Anthony Furtado and Mahesh Poddar are doing their bit to spread awareness about student suicide and the signs that should warn parents about their child's mental health. Both have lost their children to suicide and they now conduct workshops and hold talks with groups of parents and teachers in schools and colleges.

When it comes to parenting, Mahesh Poddar says that it is important to teach children how to cope with pressures early on in life. “We used to be too protective towards her. But I think parents should allow children to cope with problems quite early, so that they can prepare them to develop the self-confidence to face problems later in life,” says Mr Poddar. The Poddars teach parents an important lesson. They say that while academics form a crucial part of a student's life, it is equally essential to look after their physical, emotional and mental health.

Apart from regular communication with the child, parents need to look out for warning signs that their child is suffering from depression. Anthony Furtado has conducted over 174 workshops for parents after his son died. He counsels suicide-prone students and children too. “To lead today's fast-paced life, we have to be mentally strong, we cannot give up,” says Mr Furtado. “I feel we have to do a lot to spread awareness about mental health.”



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