Adolescent Suicide Rates Skyrocket
Published: November 2, 2011 (Issue # 1681)
The sudden increase in child and teen suicide during the last week has left St. Petersburg residents shocked and city psychiatrists seriously alarmed.
The city’s chief child psychiatrist, Lyudmila Rubina, said that this fall St. Petersburg is setting a record high for the number of suicides among minors, Interfax reported. This is mainly due to the fact that “parents do not know their children and do not speak with them enough,” Rubina said.
“Schools are also not particularly interested in the psychological state of a child. For instance, when we speak about the problem of unrequited love, it is hard not to notice a child being concerned by it. However, adults are not always ready to listen to and understand their child. They might even make some insensitive comment about the subject,” Rubina said at a meeting with St. Petersburg’s Children’s Ombudsman Svetlana Agapitova.
Marina Zemlyanykh, associate professor and chair of clinical psychology at St. Petersburg Pedagogy and Psychology Institute, said one of the major tasks for parents would be “to teach children to cope with failures and difficult situations, not to make a tragedy out of them.”
“Parents should teach their kids to resist stress, to be more thick-skinned. They should let their children know that they’re ready to support and help them in any situation,” Zemlyanykh told The St. Petersburg Times.
Last week the city was first shocked by the death of 12-year-old schoolboy Dmitry Fabrichny, a pupil at St. Petersburg’s School No. 163, who committed suicide seemingly because he got a bad grade for the academic term.
Fabrichny, a sixth-grade student, jumped out of a classroom window leaving two notes. In one, he pleaded “not to blame the teacher for his death.”
Preliminary reports said the boy committed suicide after getting an unsatisfactory grade in Russian for the first academic term that came to an end at the end of October, Fontanka reported.
The boy reportedly jumped out of the window during the lesson. Having jumped from the fourth floor, the boy sustained severe injuries and died in the ambulance.
Police who arrived on the scene found two notes in his notebook. In one of the notes, he asked his Russian teacher to give him a better grade in advance, promising to make up for it later on. In the second note, Fabrichny wrote not to blame the teacher for his death because he had made the decision to jump out of the window himself.
The teacher was also hospitalized after the incident with a suspected heart attack.
Teachers and students alike were left shocked by the episode. Fabrichny was considered a quiet child who had no problems at school and was a good student.
The boy had a twin brother who studied in the same class, and another older brother.
Fabrichny’s death was the second incident in the city stemming from problems at school. On Oct. 25, a passerby found a 10-year-old boy barefoot in Tavrichesky Garden. The boy said that a stranger had given him an injection and that he had regained consciousness barefoot and without a jacket on the bench in the park. Police later discovered that the boy had made up the story, fearing his parents’ reaction to a critical remark in his school report card that a teacher wrote after he tried to hit another boy with a chair, Fontanka reported.
Meanwhile, just two days after Fabrichny’s death, on Oct. 28 another 13-year-old boy committed suicide because of an unsatisfactory grade at school. This time the bad grade was awarded for English and it happened in the Russian city of Tyumen, RIA Novosti reported.
After getting a bad grade, the boy called his mother, who said he would be grounded during his fall vacation because of the bad grade. The boy jumped off of the roof of a nine-story building.
To add to the tragic list of child suicides, on Saturday, two St. Petersburg 15-year-old classmates jumped, one after the other, out of a tenth-floor window, both dying from their injuries. The girls left notes that indicated they had personal motives for their actions, the St. Petersburg Investigation Committee said.
Additional factors contributing to adolescent depression may be caused by negative conversations adults have around children.
“Discussions about ‘everything being bad,’ and all kinds of speculation about the end of the world cause psychological discomfort and a feeling of despair among children. Such talks have a serious impact on the immature and impressionable psychology of a child. These facts can become additional motives for such fatal decisions as suicides,” the psychiatrist said.
Agapitova said parents also tend not to seek psychiatric, but psychological help for their children, even after they have attempted suicide. The same is true of educational institutions, the ombudsman said.