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8pc of school students suffer from mental problem: Unicef

Published : Saturday, 1 October, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1149
HM Imam Hasan

Some 8 per cent of school-going children aged 5 to 17 years in the country are suffering from some kind of mental problem said the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef). Experts said that sometimes some major incidents like suicide happens among the children because these children have very little ability to handle stress.
According to a survey published by the non-governmental organization Achal Foundation, four per cent of children suffers from depression. Some 364 children committed suicide in last eight months from January to August in the country. Among them 53.30 per cent which accounts for 194 were school going students. Between January and August 2022, suicide rates were highest among 13 to 20-year-olds which was about 78.6 per cent. Among them, 160 children of the age between 14 and 16 committed suicide.
Whenever a decision seemed to go against the children's mentality, they try to take suicidal attempts.
Shimul Hossain (not his
real name), Age seven years, Son of Shafiqul Islam (not his real name) of Khulna, was a student of a local Hafizia Madrasa. On the morning of July 19, Shafiqul sat to have lunch with Shimul, just like any other day. At one point of the meal, he gave the three pieces of meat to his two sons whereas two pieces for his elder son and one is for Shimul and he took a piece for himself. But Shimul did not like it and from this anger, Shimul chose the path of suicide.
Salma Khatun (not her real name), Shimul's mother said, "My son was very angry but I never thought that something like this would happen."
How does Shimul know about suicide at this age? Was something like this discussed at home in front of him? Although Shafiqul could not say anything in response, it is known from local residents that the suicide of Shimul among children is not the first. In this upazila, there are many cases of child suicide!
On November 27 in 2020, 12-year-old Samir Hossain (not his real name) committed suicide in the same upazila of Khulna. In another nearby area, 14-year-old Raihan (not his real name) committed suicide on August 2.
It is known that even though multiple incidents have happened in the same area, no public or private awareness activities have been seen in this regard. Although all are school students, no mental health awareness campaign has been seen in any educational institution.
Sifat-e-Saeed, Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said, "According to the definition of the World Health Organization, those who are up to 18 years of age are called children. If the tendency of suicide increases among these children, it is definitely an alarming thing for the society. There are several factors at work for this. But one of the reasons is that these children's ability to handle stress is very low."
"If the same incident happens in a specific area or upazila or union or educational institution, there is no way to ignore it. Mental health needs to be improved to prevent child suicide. In this case, starting from educational institutions, parents should also come forward," he added.   
Recently a survey by the private organization Anchal Foundation in the country has shown that the suicide rate is high in Dhaka Division. It has been found that although the number of suicides among children is increasing also in several places outside Dhaka. No campaign to increase mental health awareness has been seen so far.
Dr Helal, Psychiatrist and an Associate Professor of National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital, said, "Observational learning can increase the tendency of suicide among children as sometimes children saw something like this in their surroundings.
"Importance should be given on mental development of children. From the birth of a child to his growth or development, his rearing, emotional development is very important. Children learn by watching. As a result, they try to imitate what they see around in virtual and actual life. In this case, crime patrol, some scary movie scenes are shown in front of a child, but before that, the family needs to understand the extent of the child's emotional development. In this case family tradition or education can play a very important role. If these are not given importance, the tendency of children to commit suicide may increase," he added.
Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed further said, "Suicide is increasing in almost all age groups. However, two factors are work to increase suicide rates among children. First, their emotional development may not be proper. Secondly, during the Covid-19 pandemic, students have suffered psychological trauma the most. Their educational life is interrupted, two years of their life have been lost. The pressure on various issues including exams has increased. Everything is putting an extra pressure on them."
"While their emotional development has been disturbed, various pressures increased the tendency of suicide among children, especially students. Suicidal incident never happen for one reason. When many factors come together, the tendency to commit suicide will increase," he added.

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