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Young child's suicide sparks concerns over mental health

A 12-year-old boy in Hanoi fell to his death from an apartment building, sparking concerns over children’s mental wellbeing and parents’ negligence on the matter, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police at the Goldmark City's courtyard where residents found the child's body. — Photo 

On December 16, residents at Goldmark City (Bac Tu Liem District, Hanoi) discovered the lifeless body of a young child in the area’s courtyard. He was quickly taken to an emergency room but did not survive. 

The cause of death has been determined as suicide as the boy jumped off the 22nd floor of the building due to academic pressure, according to initial reports.

Dr. Tran Thanh Nam, head of the Department of Educational Sciences at the University of Education (Vietnam National University – Hanoi), said a recent UNICEF study revealed that approximately 13 per cent of adolescents aged 10 to 19 suffer some forms of mental disorder.

Meanwhile, many others whose conditions have yet to fulfil the criteria already experience psychological damage that affects their wellbeing, and were offered no support. 

In this particular case, it was reported that the child had possibly suffered mental health problems for some time: anxiety could affect cognitive abilities (declining attention and memory leads to learning inefficiency), and behavioural changes (self-withdrawal, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and aggression). 

Dr Nam said: “Adolescents are very sensitive to the sense of respect. They are vulnerable and can easily get discouraged and frustrated by the anger and pressure from their parents.”

Nam also noted that during the pandemic, mental health issues are becoming more common, especially among children.

While students in many areas have already started returning to school, they still have to deal with residual issues after a long period of social distancing. 

Dr. Khuc Nang Toan from the Department of Educational Psychology at Hanoi National University of Education said: “During the pandemic, many children witness their parents losing their jobs and encountering financial difficulties, which could lead to unnecessary conflicts.

“In several cases, children were separated from their parents due to quarantine, or worse, suffered from the loss of their loved ones.

“This is the impact of the COVID-19 era – it directly affects a child’s psychology as they return to school, and might even follow them long after.”

Experts also agree that the pandemic can cause a number of psychological effects on children, such as anxiety, insecurity, or panic.

While the symptoms might not appear as severe, if parents do not pay attention and help their child overcome the issues, it could create a significant impact on their life and learning efficiency as school resumes.

In the case where children encounter psychological difficulties, it is crucial that parents can detect the 'abnormal' signs and offer prompt support, said Dr. Hoang Trung Hoc, head of the Psychology - Education Department of the National Academy of Education Management.

In order to do so, Hoc said that parents need to learn how to be a friend, to observe and listen to their children.

That kind of relationship should have all the qualities that a child expects in friendship: equality, respect, and being listened to.

Being friends also means accepting mistakes and encouraging changes; it is also empathy, and no judgment. 

In the transitional stages from a child to a young adult, secondary students would often encounter obstacles and crises.

These are things that are bound to occur in the child's course of development and should be considered as such, and thus parents should not be excessively strict and demanding - which could lead to major issues in the parent-child relationship.

"Even if the child makes mistakes, parents should offer kindness rather than criticism, and help the child change", said Hoc. 

"Never ask them to be perfect, that would make it incredibly hard to be a friend and understand your children, because the reality is none of us is perfect either."

Dr. Tran Thanh Nam agreed that to keep young students away from suicidal thoughts, parents need to be present every day, listen and talk to their children.

“Instead of being caught up in negative thoughts, parents should think where and how they can get the help for their child,” he added.

“The family should not leave children by themselves, and be by their side and talk with them until the emotions subside.”

At the same time, it is advised that schools must also work together in raising awareness and taking care of students' mental wellbeing.

Source: Vietnam News 

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