Spending time with families and friends, can develop positive thoughts and emotions. - NSTP file pic
Spending time with families and friends, can develop positive thoughts and emotions. - NSTP file pic

LETTERS: The best times of my school life were during my secondary school years.

It was filled with fun, laughter, friends, teachers and all the nice things on Earth. We found our self-identity and developed positive character.

So, I was sad to hear on radio recently that the suicide rate among the 15 to 18 year olds had doubled in the last two years.

What could have gone wrong that these adolescents want to end their lives? And it is not a small number. It is increasing by the day. That is a serious matter.

One way to prevent such tragic action is to introduce Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools and communities.

SEL contains two key competences: social and emotional. Both competences provide knowledge, skills and attitudes to understand, embrace and manage the social and emotional aspects of one's life.

Introducing SEL in schools and early childhood learning centres ensures that children develop the knowledge and values necessary to acquire social and emotional skills.

Such aspects have always been prioritised in humanities and character education subjects.

Social and emotional education for preschool children can be imparted through classroom instructions, simple service learning activities, cultivating love for school climate and school-home growth.

Intervention is necessary for children from broken homes, too.

By the time these students attend primary school, educators and parents should have reinforced self-awareness, control of impulsivity, emphasising collaboration more than competition, and caring about oneself and others.

Only then the children, when they turn into adolescents, learn to accept themselves as unique and dynamic beings.

They will learn to adapt and adjust, and most importantly embrace and cherish life to the fullest.

They will not think of suicide, or self-abuse or self-destruction, because they have been instilled with positive thoughts and emotions.

With a solid foundation of SEL from young, the world becomes an exciting place for them to live in.


Director, Centre for Research in International and Comparative Education; Coordinator,

[email protected] Learning, Universiti Malaya

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

Those feeling distressed or suicidal, the Befrienders KL offers emotional support. Its 24-hour helpline can be reached at 03-7627 2929.