Today when my daughter was playing in the garden and I was watching over her, I suddenly heard a boy of about 6 or 7 years scream out loudly to call his mother. After the boy called couple of times and his mother didn’t pay attention to him, he shouted loudly and said “If you don’t come right now Mom, I would kill myself”. ( conversation was in Hindi).
I couldn’t believe what I heard. I approached the mother, who by now was standing with her young boy and scolding him. I asked the mother about where he had heard this and the mother said she had no clue. When I asked the young boy,he mentioned how on a reality show, he had heard a participant say this line.
Just yesterday twice on Indian sitcom, I heard the characters,speak about self-harm and the desire to end their lives. These serials run anytime between 7 to 9 pm – primetime slots where children are likely to watch television. I consciously monitor TV timings for my daughter, but I have come to realise that I can’t have complete TV control.
At a time, where suicide rates are increasing among children and young people, are we glorifying death? Is it right to promote suicide on television and portray it as the only alternative when we find life meaningless? I don’t remember hearing or knowing about suicide till I was in my teens. English shows are censored beyond recognition in India, but does the Indian Censor Board set the same standard on Hindi channels? It is our responsibility to create resilience in children set examples by using characters who have a will and desire to bounce back. As a psychologist and a parent, I monitor and limit TV hour to just children’s cartoons, but I can’t control everything that’s been played on television.
In Indian settings, many people have 1 television and all family members watch the same serial. The very thought that television is introducing the term suicide and portraying it is heart wrenching. I know I can’t control what my daughter sees on television, but I can at least choose how she sees it and what meaning she makes of it, by talking and listening to her.
Research shows how suicides result from ‘CopyCat ‘ Phenomenon.Therefore it is in the interest of children and adults that suicide is not glorified