A study has revealed that more adolescents in India are now dying of non-communicable diseases (NCD) than communicable diseases. The research has also shown that NCDs and injuries are responsible for a higher number of deaths and Disability-Adjusted Life-Years (DALYs) than tuberculosis, malaria, or hepatitis, which are among the most prevalent communicable diseases in India today.
According to the Global Burden of Disease report, while communicable diseases are still the major cause of death among younger adolescents, there is a growing number of deaths among older adolescents caused by road traffic injuries, fire, and heat-related injuries, mental disorders, and self-harm. Based on the study which shows the results from 1990 to 2013, it appears that apart from accidents, unsafe behaviour and mental health issues have also contributed to the death or disability of teenagers in India.
Death due to injuries and NCDs
Among the leading causes of injuries among teenagers in India are road traffic injuries, and according to a study, there are 400 road deaths per day in the country. This means that someone dies every 3.6 minutes. It has also been discovered that there has been a 23% increase of death among young girls ages 10 to 14 died from injuries, while death from NCDs is at 23%. For boys in the same age group, there is an increase of 27% for deaths due to injuries while death from NCDs rose by 25%.
The number of deaths is higher in adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, with a 38% increase of death from injuries among girls, while death from NCDs has shifted to 20%. For boys of this age group, there is a 43% increase of death from injuries while deaths of NCDs increased by 26%.
Death due to self-harm
Adolescence is a critical period in a person’s life, and this is when children need guidance and support from their families and the school system. When faced or overwhelmed with problems, some adolescents may either lash out at other people, or they may choose to harm themselves. Right now, an alarming number of teens in India are dying of self-harm. The incidence of death due to self-harm is higher for adolescent girls than boys. It has been noted that there is a 105% increase in death from self-harm of girls ages 10 to 14, while there is a 92% increase of death in girls ages 15 to 19.
Preventing self-harm among adolescents
Most teenagers self-harm by consuming alcohol, smoking, doing drugs, and cutting. Some even inadvertently harm themselves as they develop eating disorders due to negative body image or bullying. Experts say that improving body image awareness may help improve teen health and curb destructive behaviour. Parents, schools, and healthcare providers should be aware of body shaming language and correct such behaviour.
Moreover, it is imperative to teach teenagers healthy and wholesome ways to improve themselves, such as meditating, exercising or intermittent fasting if trying to lose weight. Teaching them the right way to cope with health and body image issues may keep them healthy and can help to lessen the urge to self-harm.
Teaching teenagers road safety rules should be a priority to prevent the majority of adolescent death. Schools should also take steps to educate young boys and girls about the dangers of fire as well as safety measures when working with fire. Fire drills should also be conducted regularly to keep students safe if a fire occurs.
To preserve the life of adolescents, there should be more programmes in place with focus on nutrition, injury prevention, and mental health geared towards the young. By doing so, teenagers across India may get the chance to live a longer, healthier life.
About the Author
Jane Sandwood is a content writer who is passionate about healthcare.