Parents must let children know that their home is a sanctuary
Student suicide is a complicated issue caused by a host of factors, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly each pupil’s motive for taking their own life.
Sometimes, a combination of different reasons, such as conflicts with family members, study-induced pressure, poor relationship with peers and self-perception may come into play.
Regardless of the risks, four groups of stakeholders, namely, parents, teachers and peers and the Education Bureau can step up efforts to prevent teenagers from committing suicide.
Parents play a pivotal role in children’s growth in puberty, as they are the figures children have known since birth. If parents can build an excellent relationship with kids, they will open themselves up more at home. This goes a long way towards identifying suicidal thoughts and providing timely intervention.
It’s also crucial that parents avoid talking too much with their children about studies; instead, they should care more about their well-being and let the children know that home is a sanctuary for them.
Teachers should build a good rapport with their students. These young people usually look up to teachers as role models who can instil in them a positive attitude towards life.
If teachers can earn students’ trust, this will increase the likelihood of detecting early signs of potential suicide cases. The school can then mobilise personnel to follow up on such cases.
Strong-minded students can be trained to be the ears and eyes of teachers. If they spot any peers harbouring negative feelings, they can let the teachers know.
The teachers could then pay extra attention to at-risk students and assess whether further action was needed. Designated “student ambassadors” enjoy the distinct advantage of getting peers to let their guard down, thereby raising the chance of a successful intervention.
The Education Bureau can offer suicide prevention seminars for teachers and parents, so they feel more empowered to handle students’ emotional problems.
The bureau should also arrange for more experts and education psychologists to visit schools so that professional assistance can be granted to frontline staff.
There is no doubt that prevention is of paramount importance. If teachers, peers and parents try to adopt a positive attitude at home and at school, the risk factors connected with student suicides will be significantly minimised.
Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai