High school is the most crucial part of a student’s life because that is when he decides a career to pursue, works for it, studies relevant subjects for it, and applies to a college that will increase his prospects of pursuing his dream career.
However, amidst the college applications and motivational statements, students often stress themselves and without realizing it, they fall into an unstable mental health condition which might lead to depression, anxiety, or even suicide.
What Do The Statistics Say?
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 12 to 18 years old. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a survey on a group of high school students.
The survey found that 8.9% of high school students attempted suicide. Whereas, 18.8% of the survey high school students seriously considered attempting suicide. And the prevalence was significantly higher in females (24.1%) than males (13.3%).
Whereas 15.7% of the students had planned a way to commit suicide, with females being 19.9% and male students being 11.3% of them. Suicide kills more students than heart disease, cancer, stroke, AIDS, birth defects, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, and influenza combined.
What Causes High School Students to Attempt Suicide?
There are multiple reasons why a high school student’s deteriorating mental health would lead him/her to attempt suicide. However, one of the most common reasons is failure.
We live in a fast-paced world where everyone is competing to become better than the other. For students who are not all-rounders or over-achievers, it becomes difficult to live in an era where there is constant pressure to get into the top institutions and attain a successful career straight after their graduation.
Students who do not have any particular in-demand skill set or career aspiration might suffer from a lack of support from tutors, peers, and their families alike. For instance, in some cultures, it is considered to be a prestige if a student enrolls in a course related to medicine, law, politics, and business management. Whereas it is considered a disgrace if a student decides to pursue a career in liberal arts, humanities, or writing.
Niloufer Ebrahim, a consultant Psychologist says, “Parents, across all income groups, are petrified about letting their child do anything less than engineering or other conventional courses.”
She further adds, “Awareness about new subjects may be there, but acceptability is missing. Arts is still considered a poor cousin of science subjects, even though it offers plenty of interesting and even well-paying career options. Just a little out-of-the-box thinking is needed. We need to allow our children to dream.”
An educational group in Mumbai conducted a report on a group of students to investigate an increase in attempted suicide cases amongst high school students. The report revealed that more than 25% of teenagers experience “extreme stress” during their school years.
One of the co-authors of the report was a teacher at Podar World School, who wrote “Teen stress is the result of enduring worry and anxiety that adolescents sometimes experience … Although everyone goes through it, some are affected more than others.”
Exam failure is not always a reason behind student suicide.
A report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) revealed that 8,032 student suicides were reported in 2014. Amongst those cases, only 30% of the students committed suicide due to exam failure.
Some of the other reasons which might contribute to a student’s deteriorating mental health include peer pressure, romantic relationships, forced career choices, confused sexual identities, racism, bullying, parental verbal or physical abuse, alcohol or drug abuse, and poor time management skills which would lead to last-minute academic pressure.