Physiatrists believe that this could be one of the factors that are fueling suicide amongst teenagers, even though there is no clear-cut or simple answer as to why children commit suicide. The others push factors include depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- PTSD, high levels of stress, physical abuse, sexual abuse and Neglect.
With the advancement in
technology, children have constant access to the news; on TV, Radio and the
internet. And while this should be good, often bad news is thrown in their
faces constantly and it's processed in real-time.
Physiatrists believe that this
could be one of the factors that are fueling suicide amongst teenagers, even
though there is no clear-cut or simple answer as to why children commit suicide. The
others push factors include depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder- PTSD, high levels of stress, physical abuse, sexual abuse and Neglect.
Events like these are known to destroy
brain cells as explained in the book 'Saving the Brain' by Victor Hoff. In the
book, Hoff says that if these conditions are present while a person’s brain is
developing, they wreak havoc on their upstairs brain- the location where a
person’s thinking, processing, logic, and analysis take place.
He adds that when the upstairs brain has damage or deficits,
it increases the opportunities for a person to react with their downstairs
brain- a part where a person’s fight or flight response resides. According to
the writing, there is no reasoning in the downstairs brain, but only
reaction-which can cause a person to push past their normal survival
instincts and commit suicide.
Similarly, Child psychologist,
Roselyn Ngorok, explains that it is possible for children as young as six to
commit suicide when they feel neglected, unloved or not listened to. Ngorok
says children endure a lot at the hands of parents who intend to criticize or
punish youngsters for every mistake.
The discussion follows two events
over the last week when two children committed suicide in Wakiso District. The
first was a Senior Four student identified as Emmanuel Okello, who allegedly
terminated his life using a rope after his father put him in a school that he
did not like while the second was a six-year-old; Moreen Nantume, who allegedly hung herself after being forced to return to a village school as educational
institutions reopened their gates after two years of inactivity.
In both incidents, parents said
the shocking deaths happened after they had an argument on the choice of
schools. Kampala Metropolitan Deputy Police Spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigyire
said preliminary investigations indicate Nantume was going to be taken to a
village school in Buikwe district a move she openly protested in the presence
//Cue in “police mu Kira…
Nantume’s suicide has left many
people asking questions on how a six-year-old could have the courage to hang
herself. But Ngorok thinks words that the words that parents use when speaking
to children especially when they are at fault could ignite such actions. The
anger, according to Ngorok, keeps piling within the child’s mind until he or
she cannot contain the insults anymore.
“If you are a parent who scolds
at children or uses words like you are useless, the children realize that they
are not loved. They conclude that since I am not loved and I am useless, let me
kill myself. But that comes when they have ever heard or watched people killing
themselves,” Ngorok explains.
//Cue in; “they do…
Literature also shows that with
teens, more than any other age group, suicide is usually an impulsive act.
Teenagers tend to be more impulsive because the prefrontal cortex in their
brain is not fully developed and does not become fully developed until around
the age of twenty-five. The brain’s prefrontal cortex is responsible for higher
processing skills such as logic and reasoning.
Ngorok says since many parents’
financial sources were affected during the COVID-19 lockdowns, they need to
politely explain to children that they cannot afford to keep them in the
schools they want. This, Ngorok, says would help to reduce incidents of parents
being seen as dictators and disrespecting children’s decisions.
But she adds that parents need to
look out for signs such as social isolation. “The child stops playing or
associating with peers, he or she becomes bored, loses interest in children
plays and daily activities. When such signs are detected, parents are advised
to always be fast at assessing their conduct towards children and try to engage
them in a calm situation.”
Ngorok also advises parents to
control the TV channels that children watch and explains that watching horror
movies could trigger incidents of suicide or even killing colleagues in an attempt
to practice what they have watched.
Joseph Kato is currently a Master's candidate at Makerere University. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication from Kampala International University, a Diploma in Journalism and he's also a graduate in Guidance and Counseling.