As providers and caretakers, adults tend to view the world of their children as all happy and carefree. After all, children don’t have jobs to keep or bills to pay, so what could they possibly have to worry about?
Even as we ponder over this, the reality is closer to us than many parents and caregivers would want to believe.
This is because most want to believe that children cannot be affected by stress and depression for they don’t have to deal with workmates, bosses or workloads.
According to Monica Mucheru, a counselling psychologist at Kivuli Centre on Ngong Road, these emotions are affecting children now more than in the past owing to the fact that there are high demands on them to perform well and be the best, even as the strands that hold society together are crumbling.
“Before it reaches the point where a child begins thinking of suicide, depression is preceded by a rollercoaster of emotions instigated by stress in an ascending stream of feelings and tension,” says Monica.
This past one month, six university students have been reported to have committed suicide. The tradgedy that befell Pamela Bii last Tuesday is not peculiar to her family alone.
On the eventful day, Pamela came home in the evening and found Brian Kimutai, a Second Year and 21-year-old student at USIU dangling with his father’s tie looped around his neck. The student had insinuated that he didn’t like the hostel where he was residing because he didn’t like ‘what was happening there’.
It is difficult to discern ‘what was happening there’, but Kimutai’s parents recognise that some underlying stress factors played part in their son committing suicide.
To many, an adult being diagnosed with stress sounds relatively understandable, but for a young and older child to go through the same is unfathomable. However, Monica says stress and depression are conditions that affect anybody with a functioning mind. But parents forget that children deal with classmates (who might be bullies) and teachers, the pressure to keep up with expectations of society keep mounting.
After last year’s KCPE results were announced, several pupils, one as young as 12 years, who sat the exams committed suicide while some left home never to be traced again.
“At school they are given assignments and competition to be the best appraised learner is taut. In the house there are times they become daddy’s favourite or mom’s best,” says Monica. “When dynamics change and they are no longer held in those regards, they ask why, and maybe get worried sick,” says Monica.
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