By Sharifullah Baig
Faculty Member AKU-IED, PDCN
For the last two decades the inclination towards committing suicide in Gilgit-Baltistan has significantly increased among the younger generation of the society. The incidents of suicide in different communities are frequently reported however, the unsuccessful attempts are camouflaged from reportage for various reasons. The addition of these unsuccessful attempts to the actual incidents of suicide will illustrate a more alarming and distressing scenario in terms of the magnitude and complexity of the challenge. After every incident, research and investigations are launched ending up with revealing overt causes like poverty and financial pressures to maintain the status, the violation of merit in society, adjustment and readjustment problems in home and society and the mounting competitions for achievements in education and career. These research studies and investigations are followed by a series of awareness sessions in some communities for youth urging them to refrain from this nasty act. This is all what we are currently doing to curb this evil.
Research studies around the globe have explored that, tendency towards suicide does not suddenly trigger in the mind and provokes to commit the act immediately, rather this propensity gradually develops for a longer period at varied pace depending on the circumstances and intensity of an event. Therefore, focusing the overt causes and symptomatic treatments may not serve the purpose rather we need to explore the covert causes that have been amalgamated in our culture and society.
In some of our communities, awareness campaigns are bombarded for having a terrific vision for life and grabbing of massive opportunities offered by the contemporary world. These campaigns often forget the other side of the coin which is defining of a practical pathway to achieve their glorious visions and the conditions and prerequisites for grabbing those enormous opportunities. The scenario is developing a rosy and gorgeous picture for youth about their future life, ignoring the challenges, hardships and commitment demands which are an integral part of the massive opportunities on offer. Dreaming a bright and prosperous future for many years in their student life, our youth are suddenly thrown into the real world to face the challenges and hardships of practical and professional life which they had never expected. This reality shock triggers frustration and negativity among youth which is catalyzed by peer pressure, family expectations and the general impression and comments by the wider society.
In this part of the world, parent behavior, attitude and their outlook towards parenting is both part of the problem and part of the solution. In our society, seeking expert opinion and consultancies are mandatory in all walks of life except for parenting a child. Consequently, all parents are parenting experts, educationists, and psychologists in themselves developing and practicing personal educational philosophies for helping their children to excel in life. In this scenario, an aggressive competition for providing maximum comfort to the child, flavored with status-oriented relaxations are prevalent among most of the parents. To give maximum comfort and protection, we are detaching the child from the wider social dynamics and realities of the society for many years depending on the affordability of the parents in their educational life. We prefer to protect them from the society rather than giving them a controlled exposure to the reality, exposing them to the challenges and guiding them to overcome and succeed. Once, they suddenly come to the real world from a protected life, they struggle to understand and cope up with the diverse and most of the times contradicting social theories and practices in the wider society influenced by the intricacy of the global world. These children are struggling to adjust in the uncertainty, competition and multiple pressures of the real world resulting into frustration and negativity which becomes instrumental to take extreme positions in life.
Basic education plays a critical role in shaping and reshaping of the young personalities. An effective basic education helps the child to develop a balanced personality, soft enough to easily accommodate and adjust in the society and hard enough to respond and compete with the challenges of the life. Abraham Lincoln the US president had written a letter to the teacher of his son saying, “please do not make my child so sweet that people can easily gobble him and also please do not make him so bitter that people quickly spit him”. The current scenario is questioning the philosophy and performance of the basic education in this part of the world. Our basic education has been flavored with quite a few misconceptions about child nurturing consequently more inclined towards independence of child and protection of child, ignoring the inculcation of perseverance, persistence, determination, and mental toughness to meet the challenges of the incoming life.
The undercurrents and feelings of suicide takes time to unearth therefore it gradually penetrated our society for the last two decades. Similarly, eradication of this malevolence needs a long-term plan and rigorous intervention. Cosmetic arrangements like researching and investigating an event, reporting the repeated overt causes, and arranging youth sessions appealing not to go for suicide, may not serve the purpose. We need to stop blaming the youth for having intolerant behavior rather we the elder generation should accept loopholes in our basic education, parenting and youth development mechanisms.
Having a glorious vision for future life is good which we are inculcating in the minds of our youth however, it is equally important to develop strong support mechanisms and structures for achieving their life goals. The communities must step up, play a proactive role, and collectively contribute to develop support mechanisms and structures for the youth in facilitating them in their aims for life. It is the time to redefine and restructure our basic education system by removing the misconceptions. We need a basic education philosophy which is contextually successful and at the same time robust enough to be relevant for the global life. Parenting is another area which needs to be focused with deliberate attempts to alter the existing status-driven and decontextualized child nurturing fashions. The aim of the overall intervention needs to be focused on helping our children to develop contextually successful and internationally relevant personalities highly equipped with the qualities of resilience, hardiness, and perseverance to face the reality shocks of life, which now seems to be our lost heritage.