A Kerala government panel has found that 66 children in the state died by suicide between March 25, the beginning of the lockdown, and July 10—lower than the figure of 83 for the corresponding period last year.
The panel, headed by DGP R Sreelekha, was set up by the state after several school-going children died by suicide during the lockdown period. The panel’s report found that 158 children ended their life this year till July 31, slightly higher than the 147 who died in the corresponding period in 2019.
Pointing to the suicide numbers during the lockdown and last year’s figure during the same period, a panel member said: “This showed that the Covid-19 situation has not caused an increase in the number of child suicides. Lockdown period might have given protection for children as they could stay with parents.”
“However, it is a matter of great concern that more and more children choose to end their lives these days rather than boldly face the challenges in life,” said Dr Anil Prabhakaran.
According to the report by the Kerala government panel, the majority of POCSO cases come to light after regular counselling sessions at schools. The lockdown has hit this checking mechanism badly and the resultant mental pressude on victimised children would be huge and may lead to suicides, with hitherto undetected reasons.
The report found that 91 per cent of the children who died by suicide belong to lower and middle income groups. Fifty children who ended their life were said to be good in studies. Among them, one got an award from the President and another was a Student Police Cadet.
According to the report, the statistics were alarming because the system always focused on vulnerable children. The teachers and parents never addressed the issues of active or smart children—assuming all was well as they excelled in their academic and extra-curricular activities.
Most of the children who died by suicide studied at government schools (48 per cent) and government-aided schools (30 per cent). A total of 108 children who committed suicide were in the age group of 15- 18 years, with 66 per cent of them girls.
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