N. was a 12th grader who suffered from depression due to pressure of the final year of high school and psychological instability. He felt sad and depressed. During school hours, he could not focus on the lesson. At home, he did not pay attention to what his parents said… But these unusual signals did not capture his parents’ attention.

When the thought of committing suicide appeared, the boy was startled. He asked his mother to take him to the doctor, but the mother said it was "nonsense, unnecessary". Luckily, N’s cousin, who knew about depression, convinced N’s parents to take him to the hospital.

But B, a 13-year-old male student, was not so lucky. During the time of social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic last year, B. often played video games online. This made his parents very angry. They did not allow the boy to play online games and installed CCTVs in the house and even the boy’s room to monitor him. The boy felt very uncomfortable but his parents ignored this.

Two days before the boy committed suicide by hanging himself in the bathroom, he had chatted with his classmates that this might be the last time he talked to them.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among children aged 15-19 globally.

Suicide among adolescents increases, public awareness about mental health needs improvement 

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), an average of 3,000 adolescents commit suicide every day around the world. In Vietnam, this is also a serious problem as teen suicide has increased and many parents do not know how to recognize and take preventive measures.

According to statistics, about 2% of children suffer from depression. The rate is from 5% to 8% for adolescents. The rate is higher among children after puberty.

Dr. Ngo Anh Vinh, Deputy head of the Adolescent Health Ward of the National Children's Hospital, said that adolescence is a period of psychological change, so children are very sensitive. Conflicts with family, friends and society that are not shared with others can be a serious problem for them.

Children are more likely to have negative, out-of-control thoughts that lead to suicidal behavior and see suicide as a way to help get rid of deadlocks in life. In addition, the pressure of studying and taking exams can also make children think negatively.

In adolescence, along with physical development, children will experience psychological changes. During this period, the development of the "self" in children is very clear, and they need parents to respect their personal preferences and decisions.

Besides the family, the school also needs to create a friendly learning environment for children with the attention and companionship of teachers. Schools should have a psychological counseling room to promptly advise and help minors when they have problems in life.

If a child shows abnormal signs, parents need to pay attention and get to know the child's thoughts and aspirations in order to take preventive measures.

The abnormal signs could be always feeling tired or bored, feeling guilty or useless, sending messages of recommendations or saying goodbye to their close friends.

"Understanding the warning signs will help parents find ways to prevent it in time, avoiding unfortunate consequences," experts recommend.

A workshop on adolescent suicide prevention at Bach Mai Hospital, Hanoi.

Dr. Ho Thu Yen from the Hospital of Mental Health said that most suicides can be prevented with delicate and close monitoring measures, and appropriate and timely handling. 

Dr. Yen said that many parents are not aware of the role of mental care for their children. So when kids show signs of psychological instability, they are not aware. Thus, parents miss the golden opportunity to intervene and prevent their children from harming themselves.

She added that not only parents, but also teachers and friends can monitor and prevent suicide of students and classmates.

According to experts, people who commit suicide will most likely meet the diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder at that time. This disorder is treatable. During the treatment process, it is necessary to have the support of the school in early detection, family linkages, and support from specialists in examination, and diagnosis and treatment for children with mental health problems, including depression.

Ngoc Trang