Growing up in the ‘20s

How prepared are we in raising our children to face the ever-changing landscape as the suicide rate among our youths rises?

pic by TMR FILE

SUICIDE tendencies among the country’s youth are rising at an alarming rate.

Health Ministry DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in October that the trend among those aged between 13 and 17 had increased by 10% in 2017, compared to 7.9% in 2012.

The figures could increase if we take into account several suicide cases among youths in our country lately.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately one million people die from suicide every year, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people for every 100,000 people or one death every 40 seconds.

WHO also predicted that by 2020, the rate of death due to suicide will increase to one every 20 seconds. It is an issue which requires attention.

The news of a 10-year-old found hanging in her home two days into 2020 left a bitter taste in the mouth.

Her death is still being investigated, but the police have not found any indication of foul play and her case is presently classified as sudden death.

The question in everyone’s mind is what could drive a 10-year-old to take her own life?

It has become a topic of discussion in the online kingdom. The death of someone so young with her whole life ahead of her, unfathomable.

It could be an isolated case, but the fact remains she is one of many thousands young minds who, unfortunately, are suffering in silence due to various reasons.

Recently, a psychologist shared on his Twitter about the young minds’ various responses on what stresses them or makes them sad the most.

From the anonymous feedback, it was apparent that studies, family and friends’ issues are major contributors to their stress and loneliness.

One even confessed to taking drugs to escape (without elaborating what kind) and another feedback stated that he knows he is not supposed to feel what he is feeling, but he could not put words to it.

It is easy for adults to dismiss the plight of these kids — some nasty comments described the kids nowadays as being too weak to cope with life challenges — but every generation has its own set of challenges.

For a start, by the age of 12, kids nowadays are expected to understand basic coding and programming, as well as a third language for added advantage.

On top of peer pressure, these kids also have to learn to cope with social media pressure. Adults have a tough time to manage the digital life, much less kids. Many adults find solace by being part of the #digitaldetox movement where a person voluntarily takes time off from digital devices.

The young is facing a different childhood compared to the older generations.

I remember not having to sit for a placement exam to ensure myself being enrolled in a “good” primary school. Apparently, such examination is a norm today. The kindergarten’s syllabus has expanded to five or six main subjects compared to 30 years ago. Youths find themselves caught in the never-ending rat race.

There is a greater need now for these young minds to be protected. Being empathetic towards their needs should be the starting point.

While we move into the new decade, the question should be how prepared are we in raising our children to face the ever-changing landscape. Some of the approaches that we are accustomed to may be outdated. It is time we pay closer attention to the state of mental health among our children.

The words of Ali Abi Thalib summed it best: “Do not raise your children the way [your] parents raised you, they were born in a different time.”

It is our call to raise, nurture and protect our children according to their time and not compare it to ours. It is a totally different world after all.

Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.