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Teenage suicide raises concern

By ZOU SHUO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-02-04 07:14

More attention should be paid to mental well-being of students, experts say

More attention should be paid to the psychological well-being of teenage students after a teenager in Shangrao, Jiangxi province committed suicide due to mental issues, experts said.

Fifteen-year-old high school student Hu Xinyu hanged himself and local police said that he had mental problems due to bad grades, interpersonal relation issues and stress from puberty.

He had difficulty sleeping, woke up early, suffered from memory loss and emotional problems such as feeling guilty, suffering and helpless, local police said, adding that he had shown clear signals of being world-weary and wanting to commit suicide.

The incident captivated the country and had many people calling for improvement in students' psychological education.

Tragedies of students with severe mental problems killing themselves are not unusual.

In 2021, a 16-year-old high school student in Chengdu, Sichuan province, killed himself by jumping off a school building. He also had expressed suicidal thoughts.

In order to improve students' mental health and prevent such incidents, the Ministry of Education said it would include screening for depression in students' regular health checks.

The ministry also required primary school students in higher grades, and middle and high school students to undergo annual psychological evaluation and asked all primary and secondary schools to have at least one full-time psychology teacher.

Li Weihua, a teacher at the Positive Psychological Experience Center at Beihang University, said it is easy for teenage students who are undergoing quick physical development and hormone changes to have unstable and impulsive emotions.

They are also physically mature enough to commit dangerous behaviors. They have developed independent thinking, so they want to act based on their own will and it is easy for them to have conflicts in their home and at school, he said.

Parents need to pay more attention to adolescent children as it is more difficult for teachers who need to manage many students to attend to individual students closely, he said.

"They need to respect their children, help them find ways to release their emotions, make friends, and find their own community," he said.

"More importantly, parents should get to know the things their teenage children are interested in, such as their favorite video games, to build trust with their children, as they often become a 'black box' and are reluctant to talk to their parents," Li said.

Moreover, a diverse evaluation standard is needed so that students with different talents can have their opportunity to shine, he added.

Sun Fang, a psychology teacher and counselor at Xishui County No 1 High School in Huanggang, Hubei province, said although there has been progress made in recent years, there is still a lack of psychology teachers at high schools.

Her school has more than 3,000 students and there are only two psychology teachers, and four out of six high schools and secondary vocational schools in the county are equipped with such teachers, she said.

However, after three years of the COVID-19 epidemic and a lot of time spent in online courses, the percentage of students with mental problems has increased and become more serious, she said.

Taking online courses has affected students' interpersonal skills and self-management skills. Moreover, spending too much time with their parents at home only made the somewhat intense parent-child relations worse, Sun said.

"We often say that teenagers are experiencing turbulent emotional changes, but most children with good mental qualities and support systems can get through the period safe and well."

The key is for teachers and parents to pay more attention to them, learn the characteristics of different stages of emotional development, find the early signals, and help them get necessary help and treatment, she said.


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