Teens' suicide attempts rouse the one and only question: why? Adults believe that only they know about true problems and grief. They recall childhood and youth as the best period of life they would like to have back.
In most cases teens commit suicides due to family problems and personal relations, including relations with peers, professor Olena Dozortseva of Serbski center of social and legal psychiatry says. "In this period a child needs someone who will support him. He needs parents. Moreover, this age is the period of first crushes and parents must explain and teach that all problems have solutions," she explains.
Besides, parents often press on children making them believe they owe everything to their parents. At the same time, teenagers start to have their own desires, which do not always coincide with the ones of their parents. "Parents impose certain obligations on their kids and want them to meet their expectations. Such pressure causes mental conflict and children's psychic breaks down," suicidologist of the Astana medical center on mental health Kateryan Myronova says.
In the period of socialization teens need positive family situation and acceptance from their peers. "Teens' subcultures in real and virtual lives bear certain risks. Communications in social networks with groups, which cultivate positive attitude towards suicides, are very dangerous, and aprents must be alert," she adds.
Parents are migrant workers
According to psychologists, parents should stay with their children from early age, as skills of socialization and feeling of security get formed in childhood. "Migrant working is a problem for Ukraine. How can a child form his skills of socialization if his parents, especially mothers, are somewhere abroad?" chief child psychiatrist of the Health Ministry of Ukraine Ihor Martsenovski says. According to him, absence of parents makes children feel abandoned.
"Migrating abroad to earn money, parents leave their children alone with their problems. Such inner conflict causes rooted stress, which in its turn results in the increased level of glucocorticoids. High level of glucocorticoids leads to decrease in immunity, and the child gets sick. Diseases worsen the mental condition, but love still does not come, only increased money transfer," head of the department of human physiology and biophysics of Moldavian medical institute Lyudmila Sidorenko says.
On the other hand, there is excessive care, when parents do not let their children to grow up and learn to deal with their problems. "Parents cannot solve all problems of their child, and they should not. Parents must teach the child to solve complicated situations and stress by himself," director of Armenian institute of philosophy, sociology and law Gevorg Pogosyan says.
Problem of suicidal thoughts is closely connected to adolescent alcoholism and drug addiction, chief child psychiatrist of the Health Ministry of Ukraine Ihor Martsenovski believes. "The map of suicides coincides with the map of high level of alcoholism and drug addiction. And this problem exists not only in big cities, but in towns and villages as well," he says.
According to him, the reason is drinking traditions in villages. From early age children participate in adults' feasts and watch their parents drink and have fun. Thus, children learn that this is the adult life as it. Mass drinking on various occasions is a tradition, and sometimes being drunk is something to be proud of.
In big cities children copy the behavior not of their parents, but their idols - businessmen, singers, actors or their characters. Teens easily fall under the influence of alcohol ads, as they still do not have a formed ability to be sound on the situation.
Children and teens do not think about their death as of something real, as the subject of death is not widely discussed. Adults avoid this topic, and children believe that if you do not talk about it, it does not exist. Wishing to punish his parents, a child imagine his family crying over him and regretting their words, but the child does not realize the consequences for himself.
"There are many children who merely express their suicidal fantasies. But there is a category of children who try to prove their intentions with concrete actions. If adults can manipulate others with suicidal attempts, children's attempts are never false, simply because they do not have understanding when to stop. Moreover, a child does not consider the suicide as the end, but as a turning point, after which parents will love him more, the lost love will come back, his classmates will stop torture him. Adults commit suicides to get rid of pain, but children believe that a suicide attempt is the way to get what they want, but they do not realize they won't be able to use the results of their blackmailing. This is the task of parents to explain that after death there is no coming back," Martsenovski explains.
This problem exists not only in unfortunate families, but in good and rich families as well. "I had a case, when a boy from a good family threatened to hurt himself and was proving his intentions opening the window. Later he started to jump out of the window, knowing there is a canopy under he could land on safely. But one time he jumped, but slipped and missed the canopy. Was it a suicide or not?" the physiatrist asks rhetorically.
How to discover symptoms of suicidal thoughts of a teen
First thing to worry about is change of behavior without visible reasons - sudden agitation or fatigue. "In this case it is very important to talk with the child, without criticism or analysis. Parents should make the child to open up and speak about his feelings and problems," Martsenovski continues.
According to him, teens with suicidal thoughts have two twists - the first is low mood and low self-esteem and the second is fatalism and absence of plans for the future. The psychiatrist believes that the most dangerous factor is impulsivity, when immediate desire to punish parents makes children ignore the consequences of their actions.
According to the law of Ukraine on mental health services, people with mental disorders, who attempted suicides, are subjected to immediate psychiatric hospitalization. In case of refusal, a patient may be forced into hospitalization. Children under 14 can be hospitalized with parents' consent. People without mental disorders are not subjected to immediate psychiatric hospitalization. The decision on hospitalization is taken by child psychiatrist. The majority of teens, who attempted suicide, do not get hospitalized. Parents of such children have the decisive right to choose the form of treatment.
Save a child: mission possible
All recommendations of psychiatrists come to the same thing: children need love to feel happy and wanted. Parents must teach their children to understand themselves and others, to speak openly about their problems and be sure there is always a way out. However, teens do not always share their thoughts with adults, but do it voluntarily with other teens.
"Thus, parents must teach their children to help their friends and to care about others' problems. Such practice has been successfully introduced in British schools, Martsenovski says.
According to the specialist, if parents suspect suicidal thoughts, they should sick professional assistance. Moreover, parents should pay attention not only to the mood of their children, but to children's surrounding and interests. If not followed and controlled, child's worldview may be influenced by contemporary subcultures, which promote afterworld romance and self-injuries.
Moreover, parents must know friends of their children. Earlier, in the times of landlines it was easier to follow children's social circle. Now, with mobile phones and Internet, the task becomes more complicated. From early age parents should teach the child to control emotions, to develop critical thinking and self-control. "Even some adults do not know to communicate, to listen and explain, let alone children and teenagers. However, the most important for a child is to feel love and care," Mironova says.
Very often, busy parents take care only about food and clothes, and pass on the education on school, company, mass media. Such attitude is distructive for the family, as children now seek advice not from their mothers, but from Google.
P.S. According to the official statistics, one million 100 thousand people commit suicide every year. According to unofficial data, the figures show about 4 million people. Other 19 million commit unsuccessful attempts. For the years of independence, 220 thousand people have committed suicide in Ukraine, which is the population of one small regional center. And very figure means someone's life.
According to the health Ministry of Ukraine, 956 people (both adults and children) attempted suicide in 2011. In 251 cases suicides were accomplished.
In 2010, 185 children under 17 died due to deliberate self-injuries, and only 5 of them were followed by psychiatrists due to mental and behavioral disorders.
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