Hyderabad: Looking odd, being physically different, being overweight or not having the picture perfect looks is one of the common reasons for suicidal ideation in adolescents, stated experts on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Month. Body Dysmorphic Disorder where body image plays a major role in suicidal ideation is proving to be a major disabling factor in adolescents.
Young teenage girls are found to suffer from this disorder more than the boys and as they age if the issues with obesity continue they are found to go into depression which aggravates their suicidal thoughts.
Dr I. Bharat Kumar Reddy, senior consultant psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals, explained, “Poor self image tends to make adolescents overcautious about their physical appearance. If they are having marks, blemishes or are not very attractive, they feel that they are not wanted by their peers. Body image is a contributing factor to the idea of suicide and it has been found that it is one of the causes which have a higher chance of getting it accomplished.”
Having a poor body image on its own might not necessarily lead to suicide. But it is the cause for suicidal ideation and increases the risk of self-harm. Dr Daljeet Kaur, consultant psychiatrist, explained, “It is also one of the leading causes of depression and low self-esteem. Studies have shown that adolescents those who are overweight and are having problems managing their weight issues suffer not only from low self-esteem but also depression. They need good support factors in the family to fight these conditions and it is majorly severe depression that leads to suicide.”
There is increasing evidence now being seen in various interactions with the youth that social media influence is present in suicide related behaviour. While the studies are based on sample population and the numbers have been limited, experts state that the role of social media can’t be denied.
Dr Minhaj Nasirabadi, secretary, Hyderabad Psychiatric Society, explained, “The increasing risk factors on social media which are being seen in the last decade is cyber bullying, harassment, stalking and also blackmailing by accessing pictures and morphing them which is becoming a major concern for youngsters.
There are also cyber suicide pacts which are being noted, live video sharing reinforcing the behaviour of self-harm in groups or couples which is being facilitated through the use of the internet. These incidences which come to light are only small numbers but there are many who experiment and fail and these are mostly hushed up by the family members. Educating children and counselling adolescents on the aspects of using the internet wisely and also confiding in adults in the family in case of bullying is very important.”
The key to prevention lies in proper communication between parents and children. It is important that parents spend time and explain the cautious manner in which social media can be safely used. Body image issues have to be dealt with carefully and family members must lend strong support in resolving these issues and not push it aside explained experts.