Psychologists say parents and teachers must be vigilant and supportive after competitive results when children are more emotionally vulnerable.

Telangana teen kills self allegedly after being mocked for losing class polls to a girl
news Saturday, July 20, 2019 - 18:20

Parents of a Nalgonda-based 13-year-old had their worst fears come true on Friday when they found that their child, who had been missing for a day, had taken his life. According to the Nalgonda Railway Police, the boy had been upset over losing in his school elections for the post of Class Representative. However, in an ugly display of how cruelly patriarchal structures can affect youngsters, what pushed this boy over the edge was allegedly his classmates teasing him for “losing to a girl”.

Speaking to the media, T Achyutam, Railway SI of Nalgonda said, “We received a complaint from a station master that a body had been found between Chityal and Ramannapet. The boy was a student of Krishnaveni Talent School. The school conducted model elections for the students on July 16. The parents have informed us that their son was upset about his loss in the elections.”

According to reports, the boy came second in the election and was made Assistant Class Representative. Parents and school management say that he even brought sweets to school to celebrate. But the reason behind his dejection was his classmates mocking him for being unable to beat a girl in the elections. 

The boy apparently lost the election by only six votes. “On Thursday, he distributed sweets in school saying was the second leader in class. I heard from his friends that a few students said there was no such thing as a ‘second leader’,” the boy’s mother told TOI. 

As no note was found, parents believe that the class elections were the reason for the child’s death. According to The New Indian Express, the boy returned from school on Thursday afternoon and left home after leaving his bag. When he did not return till late evening, the parents informed the local police.

On Friday morning, the Nalgonda Railway Police contacted nearby police stations on updates regarding any missing case which might match the body's profile of this body. Eventually, the boy’s parents were traced and informed about their child’s death. 

A case of suspicious death has been registered by the Nalgonda Railway Police.

How can parents and teachers support emotionally vulnerable children 

Vandhana, a clinical psychologist based in Chennai, says that suicide is not an impulsive decision, and the child could have been going through a difficult time for a while. “We don’t know the kind of vulnerabilities the child was experiencing, because of which this incident stimulated him so much,” she says. 

Unhealthy competition among peers and overwhelming pressure to do well in exams often causes severe depression among children, abd Vandhana says that parents and teachers must make a conscious effort to provide emotional support at such times. “Psychological problems usually remain masked. Depression is not visible. Given that children of certain ages are already highly vulnerable, during such times, when results of any kind are announced, parents and teachers must be vigilant and make the child feel reassured. Then the child may open up and vent out their feelings. Suicide is an extreme step of ventilation when no other avenues seem to be available,” she says. 

Pointing to the series of student suicides in Telangana after the Intermediate exam results a few months back, Vandhana says that preventive measures need to be taken by the government as well. “Mental health issues seem to be worsening, especially among students across ages. The government needs to look at the number of suicides and take deliberate steps to bring them down. They talk about having counsellors in every school, but it needs to be properly implemented. Students are not being taught in schools about dealing with failure,” says Vandhana. 

“Even parents and teachers must do basic things like letting children know that they can safely share their problems. There is a difference between reporting an incident and sharing how they feel about it. Sharing can make the child feel light and relieved, and this needs to happen regularly,” she adds. 

Those in need of counselling can contact Roshni, a suicide helpline operational every day from 11 am to 9 pm. Roshni can be reached at  040 66202000/2001.

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