PETALING JAYA: At least two cases of students having suicidal tendencies are being referred to a psychiatrist every month.
Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said the cases were usually brought up by schools.
“I am extremely worried over this rising trend among adolescents and young adults,” said the Malaysian Mental Health Association president.
“Parents unfairly expect children to perform well in school without realising that the very reason they are not performing could be a result of poor human interaction and the lack of parental role.
“We must ensure healthy face-to-face interactions between students themselves in schools, and parents and teachers should understand the potential of a student and guide them accordingly as every child is different,” he said, adding that parents should not transfer the entire responsibility onto teachers and schools.
However, Dr Andrew stressed that teachers should be given some form of exposure on what to look out for in students who behaved differently.
“Even children as young as eight can succumb to depression. So, early detection can save lives,” he said.
Child therapist Priscilla Ho, however, feels different factors that cause students to take their own life must be looked into.
“If a child comes from a disruptive family and feels helpless, it is the supportive environment of the school that then becomes important.
“Teachers are required to teach and do many reports but it is so important for them to connect with their students and get to know them. It helps a lot,” she said.
The following are two sad cases of students being stressed due to their parents.
> LING’s* limp body laid face down on the kitchen floor.
Her father shook her vigorously and thankfully, Ling’s eyelids fluttered and she opened her eyes after a while.
This was a year ago when Ling – an average student from a top performing school in Klang valley – had to sit for her SPM trial exam.
“The only thing I remembered before fainting was dreading to sit for Additional Mathematics – the paper I feared most.
“I felt nauseous and there was like a great force pushing me downwards the floor.
“I blacked out and woke up to my dad’s frightened voice calling me,” recalled the foundation student, who is 18 years old this year.
Ling, who was constantly pressured to excel in academics, had thought of jumping from the school’s building so many times that she lost count.
“I always had the urge to leap off any high point when I was looking down from it.
“I would also daydream about the method I would use to die,” she said.
The youngest of three children said she was regarded as the “black sheep” of the family because of her average academic performance, which was regarded as far from exemplary by her “traditionally Chinese” father’s standards.
“Both my elder siblings were straight A scorers and were always top of their class. Also, my father has a tendency to use us (children) as his trophies.
“He was always upset that my report card was a mix of A, B, an occasional C for Chinese, and a constant D for Additional Mathematics – a vast difference from my siblings’ pristine records,” said Ling, who had to attend tuition classes that were “never-ending”.
Fortunately, Ling’s father became less demanding after the fainting incident and Ling scored well for her SPM (but not straight As) and is now pursuing a course she has an interest in.
> A NEAR perfect score of 96 marks over a hundred was written in red on the top right corner of a crumpled Mathematics exam paper 12-year-old Shanti* clutched in her hands.
With tears pouring down her face, the high-achiever told her friends who were consoling her that she would be getting the “rotan” from her mother over the few careless mistakes that lost her four marks.
As the only child, Shanti’s overbearing mother wanted her to be the best in everything academic.
“I was so terrified of disappointing my mother and also getting beaten. This often happened in primary school.
“Almost perfect was not enough. It had to be perfect,” recalled the Selangor lass who would soon be completing her tertiary education.
“I had a playroom filled with toys and the latest games and Playstation console of that time, which were kept locked.
“It was all for show. I never had the chance to even touch them,” said Shanti, adding that whatever spare time she had was to revise her lessons.
It took an emotional breakdown for Shanti’s mother to realise that she had pushed her daughter over the edge.
“It was about two months before PMR (now replaced with PT3) and my mother wanted to sign me up for an intensive PMR prep course.
“This was on top of all the other tuition I was taking.
“I snapped, broke down and tore the workbook I was working on at the time.
“I threw my first huge tantrum ever, which I think frightened my mother as she toned down a lot after that,” shared the SPM straight A scorer who often experienced migraines and shooting pains up her neck – a clear indicator of stress.
* Not their real names