Blue whale




Dr Harish Shetty


The 'clinic' of the professional or the 'abode of the teacher' are the temples of healing.

At the time of writing this piece the cops have still not confirmed that the 14 year old child from Mumbai killed himself after playing the 'Blue whale' game on Saturday 29th July 2017.. Yet the Blue Whale game has become known to millions across the country due to the media houses competing with each other for breaking news. The first media house splashed it as , 'Exclusive': 'First time in India'. Cyber crime experts say that it should not take more than 24 hours for the cops to accept or deny the story whether the game caused the unfortunate incident. A few years ago a child from an school choked himself to death in again a dare and the parents gave an interview to a prominent newspaper.

My heart goes to the family I do not know and  I would like to convey here my deepest condolences to the loved ones and the friends off the child .The grief is unimaginable and indescribable !

But whatever the trigger may be the important fact is that 'suicides' are more important than the game. We have lost many across the last few years and the numbers make us shudder with fear. There is helplessness writ largely on the faces of families, schools and mental health professionals across the country after such incidents. They were not due to this game and 'Depression' is slowly assuming epidemic proportions. Unfortunately the picture of this child, the name of the school and his own name has spread like wild fire across whats app groups though the Juvenile Justice Act 2016 prohibits this. 

Our era has many challenges and we need to evolve strategic responses to save children from the act of suicide. Following are some strategies we may follow;

Breaking the Conspiracy of silence:  

Children most of the times share with their friends the desire to hurt themselves or others. Friends may not take this seriously or also may be scared to share it with the significant adults around with teachers/counselors. These issues should be an important part of the narrative in schools so that it empowers kids to share this early with the adults. Teachers who share their lives with children and share feelings will be able to break the conspiracy of silence in classrooms. Adults who share feelings are more equipped to wire kids to share the prospective hazardous behaviour with others early. A telephone number, an e mail id or an a ' share with me' box in schools may help. This box should not be meant to elicit classified information only  but also suggestions by  kids for improving their institution.

The 'SIGNS' that should alert all of us.

If a child is quiet for some time, irritable or angry, scores less in tests, sleeps less or more, is very lazy to come to school, stays indoors in closed rooms, stops playing, talks about running away from home, stops attending school, weeps a lot, talks about death and dying or feels hopeless and worthless IMMEDIATELY take him/her to a friendly neighborhood mental health professional and not to an astrologer or priests or to religious trips. Remember the 'clinic' of the professional or the 'abode of the teacher' are the temples of healing. 

Mental Health Commissioner & Mental health soldiers

Let us accept the fact that the movement against suicide has to be 'people based' and not led by professionals alone. The situation is not in control and more people die of Suicide than Dengue & Malaria in the state. The response of the state has to be multi fold. An exclusive Mental Health Minister , Mental Health Commissioners in every district and trained Mental Health Professionals on the ground is the need of the hour. Focused activities to prevent suicide is the key. The state has 'TB Officers' across and nodal agencies to prevent and treat the disease. This model needs to be extended to mental health. People based experiments such as that of Dr Ravindra Kolhe at Melghat that has converted this poor belt into a zero farmer suicide should be integrated in such processes too
Mental Health Soldiers are the bare foot army we need to train among adults & children to prevent suicides in our country. This is doable and can be effective.

As far as this child is concerned, going through digital footprints, social foot prints, family foot prints , psychological foot prints and academic foot prints will help in conduction a good scientific Psychological Autopsy that will help us understand the reasons that drove him to end his life. . 

This was necessary in the case of Rohith Vemula too !

Posted 12 hours ago by Harish Shetty

View comments

Ritesh BhatiaAugust 1, 2017 at 8:23 PM
Superb article. Loved the idea of Mental Health Soldiers. I know I am one.

AnonymousAugust 1, 2017 at 8:33 PM
If only the government could appoint you as the mental health minister, could we have a blueprint to deal and curb such mishaps.

ujwala bagawadeAugust 1, 2017 at 11:00 PM
very true ! apart from sending kids to top colleges , clssess parents need to and should send them to seminars like nirmaan in melghaat, shramdaan shibir at somnaath or shaantivan in Beed. its not kids but parents we need to work on

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