Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teenage trauma

Teenage suicide attempts in Sri Lanka have increases ten to fifteen times fold since 1993. On the other hand, according to Sri Lanka Sumithrayo, an organization set up to prevent suicide in Sri Lanka, the rate of teen suicide had dropped from 47 out of 100,000 in 2005 to 20 out of 100,000 in 2008. Even though Sri Lanka has a declining trend for successful suicides, the number of adolescents who attempt suicides continue to increase. To reduce the rate of attempted suicide, the public must be aware of its causes. 
Love affairs are one of the main causes for teenage suicide in Sri Lanka. Even though health issues from sexual activity is running high, what seems to be as important, if not more important to the Sri Lankan population, are the risk of losing marriageability, unwanted pregnancy and social stigma
Teenage trauma can eventually lead to drug addiction, alcoholism and even suicide
‘Teenagers having problems’ is simply an understatement in the 21st Century. Stress placed on the current adolescent generation includes not only punishments at home or grades in school, but are interconnected. According to Director of Sumithrayo Nalini Ellawela, most of the suicides are caused by failed love affairs, failure at examinations and fear of punishment at home.
Competition is a form of stress that most teens go through in the 21st Century. Examinations and other important assignments at school are said to be one of the most aggravating aspects of a teenager’s life. “It is because we know that we have to achieve the best to succeed in life,” says a student from an International school in Colombo. The thought of failing such assignments, which would eventually affect their life’s goals, is the root cause of adolescent restlessness. Furthermore, additional tension from parents builds on, causing them to eventually break down.
Parents pressure their children to succeed in life but they often tend to intimidate their children to study in an attempt to helping them succeed. However, what is unknown to them is that they are continuously fuelling the stress teenagers already face. The problem arises when parents acknowledge their child solely because of their achievements and not for their efforts. The parent gets disappointed with their child, who does not measure up to their expectations. This arbitrary, imaginative standard set by parents is what adds unnecessary pressure, which often leads to inferiority complexes, or the child eventually giving up and not applying effort as they would not be able to achieve the goal their parents set for them.
Parents are supposed to provide the teenager with a loving, caring and safe environment. When parents overly pressure the teenager, the teen feels like their compassion is contingent to the number of ‘A’s the teen gets on his or her report card. The solution to such a problem is that the parent should appreciate the child not for what they achieve, but for the effort the teenager puts into their assignments, whether the results are positive or negative.
Harsh methods of punishments by parents such as shouting, screaming or beating is another form of added stress on teenagers. Pressure formed from prohibitions of what the teenager wants to do and what the teen can do causes an unstable and disturbed home. Teenagers misunderstand their parents and turn them into their antagonist. They feel that their parents are forbidding them to do what they want because of their own tyrannical right, rather than them thinking of their parents as protecting and guiding them. The parent is supposed to guide their child through life, support and advise them in making their decisions without making the decisions for them.
“My parents have pressured me to do things in the past which I objected to” says a teenager from Colombo. In addition, some parents use brutal punishments to further distance themselves from their children. Ranging from what classes to take for their A-Ls to what type of friends to spend time with, parents have a large influence in a teenager’s life and at times they push their children to do things that they do not necessarily want to do and adolescents react in a rash and aggressive manner. This is because teenagers are undergoing dramatic biological and psychological changes and are hostile and quick to react. They try to “impose discipline on us and not give us enough freedom” states a student. 
Attempted suicide has also been a result of student mistreatment. Epidemics such as ragging and bullying in school or university environments not only caused several fatalities over the years, but have also increased suicide risks among the student population. Ragging in Sri Lanka is an act that is taken to a whole other level of inhumanity. To create a definition for ragging in Sri Lankan terms we would have to look upon implementing fatal injuries, which would eventually lead to the victim attempting suicide. In comparison to common ragging, victims of individual rags are more likely to attempt suicide because of having to performing unnatural and painful sexual acts, which inflict physically and mentally scars.
Love affairs are one of the main precipitating causes for teenage suicide in Sri Lanka. Even though health issues from sexual activity is running high, what seems to be as important, if not more important to the Sri Lankan population, are the risk of losing marriageability, unwanted pregnancy, social stigma and losing face. “Tensions associated with premarital sex and difficulties in the domain of love may be underlying factors in a range of radical problems in contemporary Sri Lanka, including the problem of youth suicide, youth insurgency, drug addiction and alcoholism,” stated in a study in the Sri Lanka Journal of Sciences (1998). This is because adolescents are beginning to experience adult emotions such as lust and love; these changes make them more sensitive to the pressure placed on them. 
Solutions to releasing stress must be implemented by parents and friends of the teenager that is going through distressing times. A local teenager states, “It is something I have to handle on my own, but sometimes I wish I had someone to talk to.” Teenagers in the current world are turning towards negative outlets for their tension. An adolescent is prone to drinking and smoking if they do not have anyone to talk to about their problems. During stressful times, a teenager wishes for someone to reassure them and comfort them rather than taking liquor and pouring it down their throats or inhaling toxic cigarette fumes; however if there is no one who can reassure them, and their parents continue to agitate them, the youth leans towards alcohol and tobacco as they feel that it’s the only relief that will release them from their mental incarceration.
Furthermore, pressures placed on the adolescent generation can have drastic consequences. Alcohol, drugs and smoking would have dire effects on a youngster, which would eventually lead to addiction, or worse, teenage suicide. Solutions to these problems are only as easy as one says it is. Parents, ‘communicate with your children’. Friends, ‘help each other out, and don’t promote each other to drink or smoke or do drugs even though it could be highly tempting’. Who knows, a simple conversation can change someone’s life, which will positively result in creating a hopeful younger generation for the ever-modernizing world.
Daily News - Chrisni MENDIS