Is lack of maturity a reason for self-harm?

Many get into relationships in their early teens, and find it difficult to cope, say experts

A man stabbed a woman when she turned down his advances in Mangaluru last week. He then slashed himself. The woman is critical and in hospital.

Unable to handle rejection, a 22-year-old man stabbed a woman in Mangaluru last week. The video of his act surfaced online.

After stabbing her, he slashed his throat and hand with the same knife.

Many such violent incidents have come to light in the past year, with young people harming each other.

“Youngsters are more open to relationships in their early teens these days. They don’t know how to deal with them though,” says Dr Venkatesh Babu, consultant psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital.

The hospital, he says, receives 15 to 20 attempted suicide cases in a month, and the patients are treated in the ICU.

Besides early relationships, substance abuse, perceived lack of family support, and poor self-image trigger aggressive and suicidal behaviour among teens and young adults, he explains. 

Neha Cadabam, consultant psychologist, Cadabams Hospitals, says many young people lack empathy; they don’t have the ability to step into others’ shoes and think from their perspective.

“Youngsters find it comfortable to share emotions and feelings online rather than face-to-face. The focus, today, is more on ‘me’ than ‘we’. The sense of community living hardly exists,” she says. She attributes it to excessive dependence on the online world.

Many take rejection as a big failure and that affects their self-esteem. Low self-esteem makes it hard for people to deal with the accompanying emotions.

Machismo is a problem
Mahesh Natarajan, counsellor, InnerSight

Is taking a ‘no’ for an answer difficult for the current generation?

Machismo has been a defining character in Indian society for ages. When boys are brought up as if they were royalty, and socialising with women is not easy, rejection becomes a big psychological stressor.

How should men deal with rejection?

Changing this calls for society to change. For machismo to be called out, children should be taught that rejection is not a personal failure, and young people should be taught to value consent and allow for a healthier ego strength to emerge. Friends and family can help the dejected focus on other aspects of life that give joy.

In many cases, men fail to understand they are being rejected only as partners and not in totality.

How to deal with rejection
Talk it out: Friends and family can give you alternative, perspectives. Don’t let ego come into the picture: It is okay to let your friends know you are rejected. This helps you channelise your emotions in a healthy manner.

Engage in expressive art
Write a diary, or create art and music. Creative activity helps you ease the pain.

Use mindfulness
techniques: Self-compassion comes when you talk about what you are grateful for. Do this regularly to reduce negative thoughts.

Keeping busy is not the best way
You are not allowing yourself to heal that way. Don’t just brush the pain under the carpet; deal with it. Acknowledge it takes time to heal: Give yourself time to come out of a breakup or rejection.

Stabs Infosys employee at railway station, then kills himself (2016)
In June 2016, Swathi, a 24-year-old Infosys employee, was stabbed to death at the Nungambakkam railway station in Chennai. The man who stabbed her, P Ramkumar, was a Facebook friend, and they had exchanged phone numbers. In the early hours of June 24, he attacked Swathi with a sickle, following an argument. He was arrested for murder in July and allegedly attempted to commit suicide by slitting his throat. He was saved in time. He committed suicide in September by biting a live wire in a Chennai jail.

Man stabs friend over girl (2018)
Harish, a 22-year-old auto driver was stabbed five times in the chest by his friend Santhosh in February 2018 in Kanchiganaala village near Doddaballapura, an hour’s drive from Bengaluru. The friends had reportedly fought over a girl they liked. The two got into frequent fights and on February 13, after a heated argument, Santhosh went home, returned with a knife, and stabbed Harish to death.

Man killed over game of ludo (2019)
Mohammed Ali Shaahib, a 32-year-old man, was stabbed by his friend Sheikh Milan in Ilyas Nagar, Bengaluru, over a mobile phone game of ludo in June 2019. The two were playing the game and had placed a bet of Rs 200. According to reports, the incident took place after Shaahib reportedly rolled the dice when it was actually Milan’s turn. The fight escalated and Milan called over his friends and slit Shaahib’s ear. Shaahib bled to death.

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