Suicides in KP – a deplorable trend

By Sher Alam Shinwari Committing suicide by teenagers is a worldwide issue and our country is no exception. Since the start of this year KP witnessed a rising trend of suicide among young people which according to experts was triggered by parent’s authoritarian attitude, widening gap and over emphasis on compliance of parent’s orders by their wards. More than a dozen teenage boys and girls ended their lives in districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by adopting different modes. Some gulped poisonous chemicals, some used guns yet others preferred jumping into roaring river waters. Extreme poverty, domestic violence, exposure to weapons and faulty education system are the other contributory factors behind the tragic incidents. Three young girls in district Chitral, hailing from Garam Chashma and Parwak areas, and three teenage boys in Dir Lower belonging to subdivision Maidan’s different villages – Kumbar, Manyal and Lajabuk while one boy in district Charasada committed suicide after they either failed or obtained lower grades in their annual examination. The March 31, 2012 was the blackest day for the parents of young students Habibullah, Ahmed Khan and Abdullah 5th, 7th and 8thgrades of the government run schools of Dir, Temirgara. When other parents flocked to schools for celebrating awards of their children’s promotion to higher classes the bereaved families were mourning the tragic deaths of their innocent young wards. Two young girls [one being student of grade 9th ] shot themselves dead with pistols  in the first half of Ramazan after exchanging words with their family members one each in district Buner and Mardan, Katlang area. “Basmin Jaj, my daughter in her early teens got angry when I asked her to fetch some fresh cool water from a nearby natural fountain. She ran into a room and took out a pistol and shot herself and also slightly injured me. She succumbed to her injuries while on the way to hospital.  It happened within a whiff,” told her mother later to Police in Bunir. Similar was the case of 9th grader Shama Khan. She ended her life with a gun following a brief brawl over a petty issue before Iftari with her family members in Katlang area of district Mardan. Noted Psychiatrist, Dr Mian Iftikhar Hussain while sharing his views on the issue said: “There are several causes for all these gruesome incidents, but to me strict and authoritarian behaviour of parents, widening gap with their children and teachers’ lack of knowledge on child psychology seemed to be the main reason that drives teenagers to take the extreme step. Teenagers always run the risk of taking any step as this is their crucial stage of forming their own exclusive identity.” He said that most parents take care of physical health of their wards but many of them don’t bother about mental health of their children. He suggested that teenagers should be heard and their physical and mental capabilities be nourished and properly taken care of. “Frank family environment gives self- confidence to children to share their problems, over strictness and over expectations from them beyond their strength can result in otherwise actions. Youngsters need more sports and entertainment facilities which we don’t have unfortunately in abundance. Most often parents impose compliance of orders on their children which in many cases the children find very difficult to fulfill.  Teenagers apparently committed suicides to avoid parent’s scolding, teacher’s punishment and peer- group’ taunts,” Mr. Hussain observed. Extreme poverty took life of 7th grader Kamran Khan resident of Pir Qilla Upper Dir in April who self-immolated after sprinkling gasoline. Kamran’s parents being poor failed to buy him a new uniform after he had ranked first in the class. “Kamran my nephew demanded his mother to buy him new school uniform while his parents could not afford it, boy insisted and threatened his mother of self-immolation but unfortunately she had not taken him serious and the tragedy occurred in oblivion. He was transported to Kharian for treatment, his burns were 65 per cent but on April 20 he succumbed to his burns,”   narrated his uncle Izzat Khan. Domestic violence forced four young girls belonging to Booni, Charun, Kosht and Brep in Chitral and one girl in Peshawar Tehkal Bala area to end their lives by jumping into river. Surprisingly enough Chitral river devoured lives of five girls, all of these being suicide attempts. Pleading anonymity a right’s activist in Chitral told this reporter: “We are working on such incidents on case to case basis, we are yet to track down the real cause but random observation suggests that forced marriage may be the reason behind these incidents.”  He added that marrying young girls to old well-off men in other towns was very common in district Chitral. Forced marriage also drove Hamid Ali Khan, 20, to end his life in Peshawar three months ago. His friends found his body on the rooftop of his room with a chit that read: “I have tried my best to convince my parents not to arrange my marriage with my illiterate cousin as I loved another young educated girl but to no avail. This made me take this step.” Ruhul Amin, a renowned academician told Dawn: “In all these tragic incidents lack of guidance and counselling seemed to have played a role.  After paying dues of their children, parents think they have done their job and teachers too most often don’t understand that their responsibility is not only teaching books but they also  need to provide proper guidance and counselling to the young students regarding issues confronted by them in practical life. Our faulty education system stands rotten rather than progressive and reflective of our national aspirations. Our youth today is more confused than ever before.”–Dawn]]>

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