Saturday, June 9, 2001
M A I L  B O X

What prompts youth to suicide

APROPOS of B.L. Manocha’s write-up ‘What prompts youth to suicide’ (May 26), the basic question that society should ask itself is: Why do young people need this form of escape? There are psychiatrists who claim that it is all a matter of ‘mental health’ and should be tackled with professional therapy. Others claim that modern diet leads to chemical imbalances, causing depression, which can be rectified by medicines. Others blame the intake of drugs and alcohol by youth, which leads to depression and mental imbalance. One factor only dimly realised yet is the combined effect of TV and affluence. Children from affluent families today are brought up to believe that life should be comfortable at all times. Nothing prepares them for hardship or pain. The world of television offers quick solutions for every tough situation, and when this does not match up with reality, there is fear and a sense of betrayal. The need to escape becomes imperative.

One of the causes of despair is the pressure put on young people to succeed. Both society and parents make demands on children which many simply cannot meet and the resulting frustration drives them to commit irrational acts.

Another cause is the disruption of the family. The increase in teenage suicides correlates closely with the absence of strong relationships with both parents. Apart from broken marriages, which are gradually on the increase, now both parents are out working.

Whatever the reason, parents seem to find less and less time to listen to their children. By listening or giving a patient hearing, the problems of anger, heart-break, guilt and fear that are destroying the young can be tackled. More than half the suicide victims give clear warnings (depression, irritability, isolation, no appetite) before they take the final step. Though schools, communities, teachers and advisers should listen and offer comfort, the real healing can only come from the home environment. Do families care enough to face up to the reality of young deaths, shockingly self-inflicted?



According to psychotherapists, generally "reactive depression" prompts youth to commit suicide. This is a depression that results due to some catastrophe or unhappy event such as failure in the examination or perhaps the death of some loved one in the family. When something like this happens, the grief experienced by the person suffering from reactive depression lasts a long time and he may be so disturbed that he may be unable to resume his normal work and may develop a suicidal tendency. A normal amount of grief/sadness is nature’s way of releasing depression/tension, but abnormal reactions should be discussed with a psychotherapist.

A period of rest away from the crushing worries of life, can also serve as a tonic to many a nerve-frayed teenager.

O.P. SHARMA, Faridabad

The grand old man of Malgudi

Ashwini Bhatnagar’s "Magical Malgudi lives on" (May 19) was informative. R.K.Narayan India’s top novelist and an ace short story writer, like Munshi Prem Chand and Manto, would be read for years to come. He has gone; yet he lives amidst the hearts of millions of his admirers.

Despite being proficient in Tamil and Kannada, Narayan chose a foreign language, English, to lend a very vocal voice, colour and sensibilities to his stories. Narayan took India, its culture, its life far beyond the Indian shores.



The greatest asset of Narayan’s writings has been the preservation of local and regional flavour despite the use of a foreign language. He lent a very local voice, colour and sensitivity to his characters and stories.

Narayan does not enter into any philosophical discussions, but he always manages to convey his ideas and create the desired impact on the reader’s mind. His experiences of life and his sense of comedy gave a new dimension to his art Even his comic vision was marked with realism and born out of ordinary things of life.

In his own natural, subtle way, he probed human traits, man’s failings.

Narayan, despite being involved in deeper questions of life, remained aloof in his works. He remained objective, non-judgmental and matter of fact while handling his characters.

Ved Guliani, Hisar

Tuition trade

This refers to the article "Tuition Trade: Why aren’t they teaching in schools anymore? (April 28) by Aradhika Sekhon. The writer has raised a very relevant question in this article. About 20 years ago, tuition was taken as a last resort by weak students to pass the examinations. And the practice was confined to only the big cities. Teachers from lower middle class gave tuitions to supplement their meagre salaries. In those days, parents did not boast if their children attended regular tuition classes. Now it has become a status symbol to send children for tuition. Some parents keep their sons and daughters busy in tuition classes from sunrise to sunset. Their main aim is to ensure that their wards get the maximum possible marks through this drudgery.

Most of the tutors teach with the help of guides. They hardly touch the textbooks. In fact, a large number of these "successful" tutors are school and college teachers. They concentrate little on classroom teaching and force or cajole the enrolled students to attend their tuition classes. It is impossible to lecture effectively and honestly for seven to eight hours in a row. A lecturer who teaches his students for four to five periods daily is likely to feel mentally and physically exhausted by the time he returns home.

RAJ BAHADUR DEHATI, Gandhi Nagar (Rewari)


The need for tuition is not new but the way such classes are conducted should be a matter of shame to the teaching community and a matter of great concern to the parents.

Long ago the heads of institutions used to teach a subject or two in order to show their knowledge of the subject and to remain in touch with the students. Now the heads do not like to teach and remain in their cosy offices to look after management and administrative matters. The very same teachers who fail to deliver the goods in class are very punctual, dedicated and hard-working in their coaching centres. In most cases, they teach the same set of students with full devotion at home.

It is easy to blame the teachers for the falling standards of education but they constitute a part of the whole machinery which needs a thorough overhauling. Teachers are a part of society and their ambitions and expectations cannot be ignored. The authorities concerned must wake up in order not to allow the education shops to exploit the student community.

M.L. SHARMA, Panchkula

The downfall of the ‘queen of hills’

This refers to Raghuvendra Tanwar’s write-up "Shimla: Another age, another time" (May 26).

Shimla has certainly degenerated but not for the reasons stated by the writer. Human greed and politicians’ desire for personal gains have caused irreparable damage to Shimla. It’s no longer the queen of hills but is just a crowded city with broken roads and sunken bazaars littered with garbage. Concrete sky-scrapers have been built on the Jakhoo hill against the advice of the Geological Survey of India and multi-storeyed structures are standing in nullahs.

A number of buildings have come up near the Ladies Park on the Mall, where no building was allowed till 1977.

Residents of Shimla face acute shortage of drinking water, but little is done by the authorities concerned to solve this problem. Let the common man die, the politician must survive!

S.S. JAIN, Chandigarh