Parents, junior's life matters more than 'face'
IT IS shocking to learn that close to half of the 87 youngsters aged under 18 in Hong Kong who died of unnatural causes in 2010 and 2011 committed suicide. The youngest was only 10 years old.
The Hong Kong government's Child Fatality Review Panel recently released survey results showing that about one-third of people aged under 18 who died in 2010 and 2011 did so unnaturally. Suicide was the biggest cause of unnatural deaths, followed by accidents and attacks.
A panel member and psychologist said most of the young people who chose suicide were worried about their future, in particular, their studies.
We should join hands in helping children to alleviate their worries and prevent them from committing suicide.
This month, City University of Hong Kong published survey results showing that 30 per cent of high-school students and 20 per cent of primary-school children are likely to be suffering from anxiety.
Despite being a mild mental illness, anxiety can lead to suicide. The university's researchers urged parents to pay more attention to the mental well-being of their children. They said it is "prevalent" for children to express negative emotions.
The panel cited the case of a boy, studying at an "elite" primary school, who committed suicide one morning before school. The panel said the boy's academic results were below average in his class.
Competition and anxiety over studies might have piled stress on him. The panel reminded parents that they should send their children to schools that suit their capabilities.
Parents should know that there is no shame in transferring their children from "elite" schools to "ordinary" ones, should they discover that their children have difficulty with schoolwork.
History has taught us that many graduates of government schools shine when they grow up. Parents should not force their kids to swallow a cake which they find too tough to digest. The issue of "saving face" should be put aside when their kids' lives are at stake.
In other words, parents should keep track of their children's stress levels, be it from studies or from relationships among peers. Of the kids who took their lives between 2010 and 2011, 10 had relationship problems with their boyfriends or girlfriends, and 12 had relationship problems with family members.
The government can do more to help parents by providing more services to help them understand and detect their children's anxiety levels. Private organisations should be encouraged to provide similar services to help young people face life's issues and tackle anxiety problems.
It should be stressed to young people that there are many ways to handle problems. For example, they can seek help from professionals through telephone hotlines.
Lives are precious and we should try our best to help children and prevent them from committing suicide. Anxiety is curable. Tell your kids to relax and seek help when they feel anxious.
Killing oneself, no matter how old one is, is not an option.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
The writer is a veteran journalist and adjunct professor at Shue Yan University.