Materia Medica Malaysiana

November 20, 2007

Teach kids ‘to deal with stress’

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:07 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: More students will kill themselves if they are not taught how to deal with competition and modern day stress.
Psychologists yesterday warned that the trend was on the rise in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, and that it was only a matter of time before it becomes a norm in Malaysia.
Monash University and Sunway Medical Centre consultant clinical psychologist Paul Jambunathan said more children were becoming obsessive and compulsive due to competition and pressure.
“That’s because society expects a lot more from them. The focus now is on academic excellence and many children are unable to meet the needs,” he said.
He added that parents wanted their children to excel academically while schools were all out to out do each other.
Jambunathan was commenting on the death of 12-year-old Subashini Sivakumar of SRJK (T) Ladang Simpah, Nibong Tebal, who was found hanging two days ago from the ceiling of her room with a blanket tied around her neck.
She is believed to have been in a state of depression for achieving 4Bs, 2Cs and a D in the examination. She had promised her parents she would score 4As.
Jambunathan said no one had taught her to deal with stress or showed her that suicide was not the answer to “failure”.
“But she felt her results were not good enough. I feel she might have been trying too hard to meet other people’s expectations”, he said.
He said children learn to resolve their problems from their surroundings and models including cartoon characters.
Children also watch movies that focus on suicide, gangsterism, shooting and other negative aspects of life, he added.
HELP University College clinical psychologist Dr Ng Wai Sheng agreed that suicides were on the rise because of competition and stress.
“If the social support systems are not strengthened, we will end up with increased social emotional problems,” she said.
“When her goals were not met, she felt like a failure”, she said, adding that Subashini, her parents and teachers, were victims of an increasingly competitive world.
She said people needed to realise that suicide was not just confined to people with mental problems but could involve normal people caught in stressful situations.
Kuala Lumpur Hospital child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Toh Chin Lee said parents should know the strengths of their children and develop them accordingly.
“They should be realistic about their expectations. Parents should remember that scoring As is not the only thing for a child,” he said.
He added that children who could not take academic pressure should be allowed to excel in other fields.

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