Family, peer pressure pushing up adolescent suicides, say experts

New Delhi, Aug 30 ( An exaggerated importance to brands, pressure to perform and peer pressure have pushed up suicide rate amongst adolescents today – a case in point being the 19-year-old student who killed herself apparently after not getting admission to a prestigious Delhi college, say psychologists and parents.

Kritika Khanna, a bright student who scored 92 percent in her Class 12 board exams, did not get admission to the sought after Lady Shri Ram college and instead had to take admission in Jesus and Mary college under Delhi University. She was apparently depressed about it.

On Friday night she flung herself to death from her 11th floor residence in a Gurgaon high-rise.

According to psychiatrist Samir Parikh, suicide is an extreme step that may be triggered by one incident but the individual would have been suffering from depression for quite some time.

“Suicide is on the rise amongst adolescents. It may be triggered on an impulse, by an incident but for that the person must have been suffering from depression for quite some time, maybe five to six months,” Parikh told Inditop.

“In the case of Kritika, she must have been vulnerable for some time. All this is because of things like an exaggerated importance to brand names and being made to believe that getting into one particular institute can make your successful and, if not, it will mar your career,” he added.

Peer pressure, pressure from family and the media play a big role in building these perceptions, Parikh said.

Shocked at the incident, many parents said they are at a loss as to how to handle their teenagers.

“It’s absolutely shocking. This madness over marks and cut off percentages can drive anybody up the wall – and these are just kids we are talking about. It’s actually scary that despite being such a good student, how the pressure of performance drove this girl to take the extreme step,” said Rashmi Jain, a mother of two teenagers.

Rajesh Agarwal, whose daughter is in Class 12, said that after hearing of the increasing number of cases of teenage suicides – the latest being that of Kritika’s – he is worried to bits.

“On one hand there is this tearing competition – scoring high marks to get admission in a good college, then crack entrance tests to get into a reputed professional institute, then getting placed in a good job… and on the other hand these cases of breakdown.

“As a parent, I want my child to do well. But is it enough that the child is not pressurised at home? What about peer pressure? Sitting at home, I can do only as much and these cases of suicide have really got me worried,” Agarwal told Inditop.

While counsellors said that parents must interact with their children as much as possible and assure and re-assure them of unconditional support even while reprimanding them, counsellor Gunjan Doga said that the tell-tale signs of depression should not be ignored.

“When a person has been upset for an unusually long time, shows withdrawal symptoms, doesn’t seem to enjoy things that she used to and doesn’t express any desire, one should get help,” Doga told Inditop.

“Unfortunately, most of us simply ignore such things and think that everything will be fine in some time. We don’t say that a person who is physically ill is right? Then why so when it comes to mental health?” she said.