Lockdown during the pandemic has been challenging in itself but mental health is something that has recently gained a lot of attention. As the stress and depression increase, many are taking drastic measures and children are also falling prey to this.

According to a government report, there have been 173 children suicide cases since the lockdown began and mental stress was the biggest cause for most of these.

The report was submitted to the government by a committee headed by fire force chief R Sreelekha, which was set up to study suicides by children in the state.

The study was based on the figures from the beginning of the lockdown on  March 23 till this month. The highest number of suicides were reported in Palakkad, Thiruvananthapuram, Malappuram, Wayanad and Alappuzha districts. Suicides are more common in children between the ages of 10 and 18 years, the study found.

Disappointments, loneliness, family quarrels, mobile-internet overuse, love failure, and parental abuse are among the other main causes, besides stress, for such suicides. There are 41 cases in which the cause could not be ascertained. Most of the children who committed suicide had excelled in their studies.

Among those who ended lives due to depression after being reprimanded by parents, most were boys. Fear of failing in exams and sexual harassment are the main reasons for girls’ suicide. About 41 per cent of those who died by suicide are higher secondary students.

A helpline called Chiri offers tele-counselling for children suffering from depression. The police-led helpline has so far handled more than 6,000 cases.

Children and parents are guided by psychiatrists, psychologists, school counsellors, and student police cadets. The contact number is 9497900200.

As part of the Health Department’s project called ‘Ottakkalla, Oppam Undu’ (You are not alone, we are with you), 3.95 lakh children were counselled over the phone by school counsellors.

For details and help, call 1056, the toll-free number of Disha (Direct Intervention System For Health Awareness).

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