Increased interest in romantic relationships is one of the defining features of adolescence and it plays an important role in their emotional wellbeing. When in love, a teenage heart is cheerful, and their mind is floating in the air constantly. There is music in every beat and dance in every step. Whether there is a coffee date at a mall, a movie show at the cinema, or a friend’s party, the young love is in full blossom with a possibility of beginning as a brief relationship, progressing into an intimate affair, and transforming into an intense and committed relationship.
And then suddenly one day, everything comes crashing down! Instantaneously the singing heart has converted to a consistent foul mood, irritability, sulky attitude, and a catatonic zombie behavior. Till the time you figure out that your teenager’s beautiful love story has run its end credits, it is too late.
Suicides among teenagers have continued to be a serious concern and it is the second leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults. While a majority of suicide cases are associated with significant mental health issues, family history of suicides, exposure to violence, feelings of despair, self-doubt, stress, acute loss, etc. the one that is significantly concerning are the variables related to adolescent romance. Why does a young love that is supposed to be soaking in the euphoria of love and brimming in the vibrancies of life, lead to the dark path of suicide attempts or completions?
Adolescence is a transition phase when the body and mind undergo multiple significant changes, and that is reflected in the form of attitudes, behavior, sensitivity, and perception of the adolescent. It is but natural at this stage to desire the attention of not only friends but also feel attracted to a particular someone. While the brain is still developing and the behavior is impulsive, spontaneous, unable to foresee the consequences of their acts, the young heart is in full swing of hormones and jubilation. While romantic relationships are common at this stage, they are mostly shorter in duration, and relationship breakups are quite common. Whether a breakup is due to rejection, refusal, disregard, or Passover, the breakup of a romantic relationship is the most traumatic experience in youth and a lead cause for psychological distress and suicidal attempts among youngsters.
Even for parents who find themselves dawdling between a sense of despair, dismissive attitude, and wondering why their teen is holed up in the house refusing to participate in regular activities, they are usually stuck over how to deal with their teenager’s heartbreak. It is also commonly assumed that young people’s adjustment over time while dealing with the grief of heartbreak and pain associated with it, diminishes itself with the passing phase. What we need to realize is that breakups can have severe negative outcomes for the adolescent.
Apart from heartbreaks, another concerning factor leading to teenage suicide is being in an abusive relationship. Domestic violence, harmful relationships that are unhealthy and abusive, can cause long-term consequences that could lead to suicidal tendencies. So, what needs to be done to reduce this alarming rate of suicidal tendencies among adolescents who find it difficult to deal with the heartbreak in a romantic relationship?
While it is yet to be deciphered what types of relationship issues strongly contribute to mental health issues and suicide risk, seeking help from counselling is helpful, be it by a family or friend where the teenager feels comfortable communicating, or professional help. A young heart’s feeling of ‘being in love’, convictions of ‘true love’, the experience of confusion and hurt need to be acknowledged and carefully examined. Look out for those alarming signs when youngsters continuously use sentences like “I wish I was dead”, “I won’t be a problem for anyone anymore”, etc. It is still difficult to bring people to talk about suicide, however, a clear communication and sensitive approach is highly required in such cases. Parents and guardians need to be not only vigilant, but also open to discussing openly about their children’s wellbeing, mental state, feelings, and depression.
Teenagers, on the other hand, need to understand that they don’t have to jump into the ship of love just because their peers are into relationships. Approach someone only when your heart and mind are driven towards the person naturally, find out about the person as much as you can. Talk to a trusted adult about it. Even young love is beautiful, but it should not be rushed, it shouldn’t be dealt with the impulsive approach. Enjoy the lovely phase of being in a relationship, and even if there is a separation, don’t sulk forever…there is life beyond a heartbreak. Be happy, be strong and rejoice in life for so many reasons that life has to offer!
About the Columnist
An HR-turned-Author, Jyoti Jha is an MBA by qualification and has been associated with corporates like Infosys and Whirlpool in the past. Having lived in the USA and UK for more than a decade, she embarked upon the journey of exploring the field of literature. A Literary Critic, Columnist, and an esteemed winner of ‘The Times of India Write India Season 3’, she has authored the books, ‘The Realms of Human Emotions’ and ‘Around The World Through My Lens’. A proud panellist and Guest Speaker in Talk Shows at prestigious institutions like IIM Lucknow, IIT Delhi, IIT Jammu, and Christ College, she has been featured in various esteemed media houses.