'Tough times don't last, tough people do'

'Tough times don't last, tough people do'

While the society stays blissfully unaware, an epidemic called ‘suicide’ is sweeping over the youth of India. A recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences found that adolescent suicides are increasing at the rate of five to 10 per cent and that underlying triggering factors like mental disorders are occurring more often in girls than boys with gender disparity becoming evident early on.

India has an estimated 24.3 crore boys and girls aged between 10 and 19 years, which comprises 21 per cent of the total population. A 2012 survey undertaken by a separate group of researchers came up with a statistic of 1,87,000 suicide deaths in India - 1,15,000 men and 72,000 women among persons aged 15 years or more. This is higher than the World Health Organisation’s country-wise average of 1,70,000 annual suicide deaths.

Most of these cases are being attributed to depression from an unhappy family background, broken relationships, stress of studies, unemployment, drug and alcoholism and financial problems. Aasra, a Mumbai-based NGO has been running a 24X7 national helpline for the youth for the past 15 years now. Its director Johnson Thomas says, “We get up to 500 calls a day. 70 per cent of these are from people in the age group of 15-45 years. Worldwide, this is known as the most suicide-prone age group as the most sensitive of life events – the crucial exams, start of a career, marriage etc. take place during this time.”

“For the same reason, people in this age bracket also need the maximum amount of family support and guidance. However, that has been frittering away with increasing Westernisation in India. Parents get separated or are busy with their careers and hence don’t have enough time for the kids. The children also live in their virtual world of Facebook and Twitter much more than with their families. The rift is widening.”

Dr Sameer Malhotra, Director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Hospitals, says the increasing competition in schools, colleges and workplaces is also taking its toll. “We are a performance-driven society these days. All we care about is scores in exams, which college one made it to and how much one is earning. There is little time to relax and enjoy life. Your mental strength is being tested all the time. No wonder, people succumb.”

Johnson Thomas says life is never devoid of problems but then every problem has a solution. All one needs to do is focus on that and remember their achievements and happy moments. “Every person feels failed and lonely at some point of time in life. It is important that you reach out to people even if they are not aware of your situation. Friends are always helpful in tiding over traumatic times. It is important that you share your feelings.”
“Tough times don’t last, though, tough people do.”     

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