Social worker addresses child suicide issues
“Children are vulnerable. They deserve to be protected, listened to and loved. They experience pain and can harbour suicidal thoughts,” warned a social worker in Maun, Gontle Samakabadi who works for Women Against Rape (WAR).
Speaking to Okavango Voice this week after the recent deaths of two 11-year-old girls who committed suicide in Sehitwa and Boro locations, Samakabadi explained that child suicides, though rare, are a sad reality.
“Such cases are not common, but they are there. That is why it is important for parents not to lose their attachment to their children,” she added.
The young social worker stressed that the same attachment parents have with their babies should be maintained even as the child grows older because “when a child detaches from a parent they may get lost and feel helpless.”
Samakabadi added that children do not always express their feelings vocally and instead resort to actions.
He advised parents to refrain from showing anger and shouting at children without understanding or hearing them out first.
“They want to be understood, they want to be believed and if you doubt them or their siblings, they may in the future be afraid to confide in you as an adult. When they reach that stage they may get confused and jump impulsively to wrong decisions,” she further pointed out, adding that suicide in children is often an act of crying out for help and, possibly because no one listened, they take their lives.
Samakabadi stressed that in the recent cases involving the two girls, as neither child left a suicide note it was dangerous to speculate on what might have driven them to take their own lives.
“I do not know why they did it, but what I am saying here is that parents should come closer to their children, understand them and be able to talk to them when they see signs of sadness.”
WHAT EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW
Children and teens who are depressed have a higher risk of suicide.
Symptoms of depression sometimes are obvious, such as appearing sad, hopeless, bored, overwhelmed, anxious, or irritable all the time.
But some kids are good at hiding their feelings or don’t know how to express them.
Adolescents who tend to get severely angry and have a history of aggressive, impulsive behavior have a much higher risk of suicide.
This is because they tend to act out their feelings in a destructive manner. The risk can be worse if they are socially isolated, abusing drugs and alcohol, and have unhealthy media use habits.
Studies show that suicide by one family member increases the risk of suicide among others within the family.
Ongoing family conflicts, abuse, violence, lack of family connectedness, and parents’ mental health problems can also raise a child’s suicide risk.
Changes that involve loss, such as a death of a loved one or family homelessness can put a child at higher risk.
A history of foster care and adoption also has been linked to higher suicide risk.
Children who are bullied and those who bully others are at higher risk of suicidal thoughts and actions.
This is true whether it is face-to-face or online cyberbullying.
One study found children and teens who were cyberbullied were roughly three times more likely than peers to have suicidal thoughts. (Healthychildren.org)