General News of 2013-03-09

Closely monitor Teenagers for suicidal tendencies- Psychologists

Psychologists are warning parents and all who deal with adolescents to closely monitor their wards to prevent teen suicides.

The practice appears to be on a gradual increase with the death of Richard Awuye, a 16 year old Junior High School student in Kedzi in the Volta region who was found hanging in his room over the weekend being the latest victim.

His death which shocked his relatives and community members brings to four, adolescents who have committed suicide over the last five months.

In January, a 17year old final year JHS student committed suicide at Kyeamekrom in the Ashanti region.

Only last month, another incident was recorded at Kweikuma, a suburb of Sekondi-Takoradi involving a 13year old basic school pupil.

He took his life because his mother had punished him for misconduct.

In November last year, a 17year old senior High School student who had been jilted by her boyfriend also committed suicide.

Head of the Psychology Department of the University of Ghana, Dr. Charity Akotia who admits there is no official research on teen suicide, says the trend is becoming worrisome.

In an interview with Joy News, Dr. Charity Akotia maintains that adolescents are at risk because of the transient developmental stage they find themselves in.

According to her, “the transition from childhood to adulthood is a ‘period of crisis which many teens find difficult to cope with. The transition is characterized by uncertainties and confusion of choices, which is further compounded by parental and societal demands breeding untold stress. Those who cannot cope unfortunately sometimes resort to suicide though it is not an avenue for redress”.

She further cited contributing factors to teen suicidal behaviour such as feelings of neglect and inadequacy, lack of attention for the teens as well as family conflicts.

Dr. Akotia therefore advised parents to give their teenagers attention, emotional support and show interest in what they do, who they spend time with and appreciate them.

This she said would help to identify any withdrawal symptoms or general behavioural changes which usually precede suicides.

She also recommends training and information sharing on parenting as well as capacity building for adults and all who deal with children.

Dr. Akotia is subsequently calling on all and sundry to be on the alert to identify the risk factors that predispose adolescents to suicidal behaviour and link them up to appropriate authorities for early interventions.