Friday, August 22, 2014

247 - Value education to de-stress IIT-Kharagpur undergraduates - TNN

TNN | Aug 20, 2014, 12.04AM IST

KOLKATA: From the new academic session, that has just taken off, value education is making an entry into the curriculum of undergraduate students of IIT-Kharagpur.

An all new Vivekananda Center of Excellence is starting at IIT-Kharagpur, funded completely by the Centre, to help students balance the extreme stress conditions that they have to weather for five years of their undergrad programme. Yoga, meditation, simple calming techniques, year-long inspirational workshops and lectures about balanced leadership will form the backbone of the value education content at the Center.

While the institute is in the process of designing the curriculum, the underlying refrain is to find out an effective way of dealing with depression and suicidal tendencies that have been haunting the oldest and biggest IIT campus in the chain for the past six years.

Over this period, 25 students have committed suicide in this institute for not being able to live up to their mirror image that consists of a complex medley of grade points, placements, intense workload and a complete emotional disconnect with their immediate environment. Professors have no choice but to give attention to the top 10-15% brilliant boys and girls who ask the most questions out of their own urge to excel. The next 55%, somehow, manage to keep their grades, while the bottom 30% continue to slip till they either start failing their grades or drop out. At one point, the institute had the ideal ratio of one teacher per 10 students, which has fallen to 25 students now, thanks to the 400 vacant teaching posts that the institute hasn't been able to fill up in the last one decade. At the moment, at least 300 students are being counselled in the institute's counselling centre but that is not enough and hence the Vivekananda Center.

"The idea is not to churn out just first-class engineers. That in any case we are being able to do. In the midst of this competition, several students lose their basic human qualities. Once that happens, stress and depression get an easy walkover. We hope that the new centre will help the students overcome this crisis," said IIT-Kgp director P P Chakraborty.

It's coming up at the centre of a natural lake inside the campus, opposite the gymkhana. The Union ministry of human resources development has granted Rs 15 crore to IIT-Kgp for the centre.

Friday, July 18, 2014

246 - IIT-Delhi student commits suicide - TNN

TNN | Jul 17, 2014, 12.43AM IST

PATNA: A second year student of IIT-Delhi, Ridam Kumar Singh (19), committed suicide at his residence on Mandal Path under Shastri Nagar police station area on Tuesday.

Ridam's father Narendra Kumar Singh, a chief engineer with Indian Railways, was transferred to Patna from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, four months back. The family hails from Agra. Ridam came to Patna one month back to spend his vacation, police said.

"We are trying to ascertain the reason behind the suicide by searching his mobile phone, laptop and other belongings found in his room. His parents have no idea why he committed suicide. He hanged himself from the ceiling fan in his room. When he did not come out, his parents entered the room and found him hanging and rushed him to the railways hospital where he was declared brought dead. There was no suicide note. Initially, the family did not inform the police about the incident," said Shastri Nagar SHO R K Singh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


When people imagine college life, they think of studying, socializing, and learning. No one thinks of suicide. However, at IIT Kharagpur, suicide is becoming a terrible trend. In the past six years, the university has seen an unprecedented twenty-two suicides. Many school officials say that this number is very high compared to those of the past

In March of this year, there were two student suicides that happened within a two-week span. Boga Shravan, age twenty-four, committed suicide on March 17 and Lokesh Kumar Goyel, age twenty-two committed suicide on March 30. Both students hung themselves in their rooms. Boga was a computer science student and Lokesh was in his final year of chemical engineering. 

These suicides really took an emotional toll on both the students and faculty. Instead of being able to focus on work, these students must mourn the deaths of their peers. Depression has been speculated in both cases as Boga had completely left Facebook after years of avid use and Kumar admitted in his suicide note that he was facing “some kind of depression”

Although often shunned, depression is a prevalent issue at every IIT. Currently over 200 students are seeing doctors at IIT Kharagpur. These psychologists aim to catch depression at its early stages in order to medicate those afflicted.

The major reason why these students face depression is because of the incredibly intense workload at IIT. These students spend sixteen hours a day, trying to get decent marks in some of the hardest classes. Students must learn very technical things and compete for the best grades. This difficult life perpetuates throughout college and can be very daunting. Even after students graduate, there is no guarantee of a decent paying job.

In Boga’s case, he had received a job with a much lower salary than he had expected. Believing all the hard work in school resulted in almost nothing is a serious stressor for these young adults.

Moving Forward
IIT should work to do more to ensure its students have access to psychologists and counselors whenever they need them. It is important that these students who lead very stressful lives can seek someone to talk to about their issues. 

Additionally, a critical supplementary issue is lack of media coverage. There is very little information presented about student depression at IIT. Depression is still a very embarrassing topic for many Indians. Those suffering from psychological disorders still face brutal ostracism and as a result, many avoid diagnosis. 

A byproduct is self medication through alcohol and illegal drugs. The only way to combat this stigma is to expose people to the consequences of undiagnosed disorders. We need to spread the idea that afflictions like depression can be treated and is important to be treated.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Before success comes in any man's life, he's sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit. That's exactly what the majority of men do.

You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.


Friday, May 16, 2014

243 - The bridge between suicide and life by Kevin Briggs - TED Talks

TED2014 · 14:13 · Filmed Mar 2014 
Subtitles available in 1 language 

For many years Sergeant Kevin Briggs had a dark, unusual, at times strangely rewarding job: He patrolled the southern end of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, a popular site for suicide attempts. In a sobering, deeply personal talk Briggs shares stories from those he’s spoken — and listened — to standing on the edge of life. He gives a powerful piece of advice to those with loved ones who might be contemplating suicide.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

242 - IIT student's death: Court quashes police closure report, orders probe - Two Circles

Submitted by IANS on 23 April 2014 - 12:00am

New Delhi : A court Tuesday quashed a closure report filed by Delhi Police in the case of first year student of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, who allegedly committed suicide in 2011.
Rejecting the report, Metropolitan Magistrate Aakash Jain said there have been serious gaps and lacunae in the police investigation. Ordering further investigation by the Vasant Vihar SHO, he directed them to file a status report by July 25.
Chemical engineering student Dinesh Ahlawat (19) from Haryana's Rohtak was found hanging in his hostel room at the Zanskar Hostel wing of the institute Aug 4, 2011. The family suspects foul play.

Advocate Karan Kalia appearing for Ahlawat's father who moved court against police's closure report said that court ordered that "the allegations of the complainant are grave and serious and has to be investigated".

The Delhi Police, Nov 2, 2012 filed a closure report in the case stating that the Ahlawat committed suicide due to the fear of declaration of his result in the class 12 compartmental examination upon which his admission into the IIT was to be confirmed.

Kalia, however, told the court that reason mentioned in the closure report is totally "absurd and is factually incorrect".
"The Investigating Officer stated that Ahlawat was under mental pressure or stress due to declaration of result on the fateful day. The fact is that the result was declared on Aug 2, 2011 and he scored 90 marks in that exams. He had full knowledge of scoring 90 marks before he died," he added.

The advocate further argued that the investigating officer at no point investigated the angle of murder and abetment of suicide due to inhuman ragging, harassment and mental torture.
It was also submitted that police did not investigate the aspect of Ahlawat being murdered after his hands and legs were found to be tied. "The Investigating officer relies only on the report dated June 1, 2012 wherein the doctor opined that the deceased might have tied his own hands and legs in order to prevent any change of mind."

Ahlawat's hands and feet were tied when he was found hanged.
On the day of incident, he was last seen at 1 p.m. at a tea stall near the hostel. IIT officials had claimed the body was discovered at 4 p.m. His roommates immediately informed the authorities and Ahlawat was taken to a nearby hospital, where doctors declared him dead.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

241 - IIT Kharagpur graduate kills self - TNN

IIT Kharagpur graduate kills self
TNN | Apr 19, 2014, 12.53 AM IST

PATNA: A 29-year-old IIT-Kharagpur graduate girl committed suicide by strangulating herself with a dupatta at her house in Purnendu Nagar locality under Phulwarisharif police station area on Wednesday night.

According to sources, the girl, identified as Suchita Kumari, was an IAS aspirant. She took the UPSC examination thrice but failed to clear the mains. She used to be depressed over it.

Her father, a retired bank manager, Harendra Jha knocked on the door of her room on Thursday but she did not open it. Police said the door was closed from inside and they had to break it open.

Patna SSP Manu Maharaaj said, "She left a suicide note on the study table of her room. Her father told the police that she had dinner with the family before entering her room. Everything seemed to be normal at that time. In the suicide note, she did not blame anybody and mentioned she was keen to become an administrative officer. But frustrated with the result, she committed suicide. Her mobile phone has been taken in police custody and her body was handed over to her family after post mortem."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

240 - Suicides at IITs: A prospective solution by Ankit Modi

Ankit Modi (IIT Kanpur       |   2014-04-07 02:34:02   |   

Colleges   |   Opinion   |   Posted By: Invade Cafe

So I was googling about suicides at IITs and there were a no. of links explaining what, how, where and when each of these unfortunate incidents happened. What was missing among those was a 'Why' ? A concrete 'Why'.

I don’t think that academic burden can be the sole reason. Yes, academic pressure might play a part but that’s very different from what I call “academic burden”. The pressure is not there because of the large syllabus or high collegiate content. If that would have been the case then students would not be happy on scoring 50 out of 100 in the tougher courses where class average is 30.

So, the cause behind this pressure seems to be the cut throat competition. And it would always be there no matter how much the course contents are lessened, or contact hours are reduced or gaps between exams are increased. The ideal solution would be to have 100 such IITs for such a large young population. But for now, that’s a distant dream. But till then, can we afford to lose our precious scientific minds at such an early age? No. Absolutely not.

Now that the academic pressure has been sidelined, let’s carry forward our search of that elusive ‘Why’. It's pretty tough to find some commonality in the reasons behind such cases. There are numerous reasons why a person decides to take his/her life and several of those reasons have to come together for it to happen. 

The reasons behind each of the cases might be in stark contrast with the others. But once those reasons have played their part, once an individual has got into that frame of mind, the action that follows is the same for all.

Now, if we can wipe out all the factors which drives a person into that mood, that would be wonderful. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. So, I want to focus on what needs to be done once that frame of mind has been attained. Once the decision to take one’s own life has been taken.

Let’s divide a (suicide) victim’s life in two phases. Phase 1 would be the life which he lived before taking that decision. Let’s call it Pre-decision phase. Similarly, a Post-decision phase (Obviously, the second phase has a few moments or hours.)

Now, I am going to shift my search of ‘Why’ from Pre-decision to the post-decision phase. From “Why he took such a decision” to “Why he didn’t stop himself from actually acting upon that decision”. What knowledge could have we installed in his system so as to make him capable of thinking rationally in that critical situation.

And the solution that I propose comes from one of the links that I talked about earlier. It mentions a quote from our dean. Quoting it, “There are about 6,300 students at IIT-Kanpur. We can't keep an eye on all of them.” 

What if we could keep an eye on all of them. Would that give us a solution. Maybe, yes. But that seems tough, right ? What if we empower them to keep an eye on themselves. Now, the problem seems to ease out a bit.

Okay, but how can it be done? Allow me to present a few points to elucidate how I reached to one such solution.

1. I am currently enrolled in a course where the professor talked about suicides for three complete lectures (since the latest mishappening in the campus). And he inculcated some rationality into my views on this issue. He explained the various circumstances when a person is susceptible to committing a suicide.

After knowing all this, one can clearly identify when he is getting into a mood that can possibly lead to a suicide. And once that mood has been pinpointed, he can warn and pull himself out of that depression (not completely, but to the extent where suicide is not an option).

I strongly believe that none of the students doing this course would ever think of self-destruction in their life.

2. Now if this thinking can develop in students doing this course, then it can also be developed in the remaining junta. So, the solution lies in imparting this knowledge to all the students in this campus. We can do that by holding a lecture or a seminar on ‘Suicides’ but it has been done before and has not led to any fruitful outcomes.

Maybe because the students don’t attend them. But think of it as a polio vaccine. No matter, how reluctant the students are to discuss this issue, we have to infuse this awareness into them. (On that note, claps for becoming a polio-free nation. Now let’s build a suicide free one.)

3. So, the problem is, where can we get all the students together. It can’t be sports, music, dance etc because not all of us are indulged in any one of them. The only viable option is Academics.

3. Coming to academics, what are the courses that are compulsory for all the students. Clearly, PHY103, MTH101, HSSs ( Humanities & Social sciences ) etc are the options. HSSs should be preferred as:

i. They are more closely related to the issue than others.

ii. Talking about suicides in a class of 40-50 students would hit on a more personal level than say, a class of 500.

iii. It helps if we can do this early in their college life. And HSSs are compulsorily taken in the first year.

4. I propose that 2-3 lectures of every HSS course must be dedicated to talking about suicides. And it should be made mandatory.

5. But not all of us attend classes. And those who attend, sleep through some of them. So, how to access these students (remember, we can’t miss out on a single student). This leads me to exams. Every single one of us write exams.

The trick is in not only talking about suicides, but also making them think about it. Because, once we have thought/ read and spoken/written about something, it acquires a whole new different level of reality for us.

For example, if a guy likes Kejriwal but we make him write (at gunpoint) ten reasons why Kejriwal is a total jerk, there is a strong probability that he may consider believing in some of them.

So, my next proposition is that every mid-sem of an HSS course must contain a question on suicide. An example may be:
" What are suicides ? What are the various situations which leads to a suicide. Explain how tragic are the after effects of this experience for the victim’s family. "

Writing about these issues would put ideas in our subconscious mind. This act, done in the pre-decision phase might help a lot during those critical moments of post-decision.

6. Well, but a question has been leaked for the exams. It’s pointless to be worried about that. In fact, it’s an ideal situation. This question would carry free marks and nobody would want to lose them. So, it would be kind of mandatory to read about it. And it would hardly affect the grading as everybody would score at par on this question.

7. But the students would just mug up all the answers without understanding them. That's a valid point. But remember why we started studying physics ? Because it was mandatory to prepare for JEE. And eventually, we fell in love with it. So, let them mug it up. It;s enough that they read about it.

This was all about the solution that I had in my mind. The crux is to somehow make them aware of the consequences. I know this is not a perfect solution. If anything, it is far from perfect.
But this is not what this article was aimed at. Yes, a head fake ( Randy Pausch, anyone ? ). 

I wrote it for my own personal satisfaction. At the end of this post, I would know that I have not cribbed about yet another life being lost at an IIT. Instead, I tried to give a solution. 

And I would urge you all, and specially those who have shown their concerns on social platforms, to come up with a solution. Please come up with at least an idea. However silly it might look. Just think of something and throw it out in the open for discussion. 

I see a plethora of smart thinkers around me and I staunchly believe that if each one of us thinks hard on it, maybe, maybe we can get to that perfect solution.

But till then, let's make the students aware about the different aspects of suicides. Even if it means a forceful awareness.
Make them think about it. Make them read about it.
Or better, make them write about it.

IIT, IIT Suicides, Suicides

- See more at:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

239 - Second suicide in a month gets IIT Kharagpur worried

Monday, 31 March 2014

Kolkata, March 31:
The second incident of a student allegedly committing suicide within a month at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, has raised deep concern among the authorities of the oldest IIT in the country.
Fourth year Chemical Engineering student Lokesh Kumar Goyal (22) was found hanging from the ceiling fan in his hostel room late Sunday night.
Confirming the incident, institute's Registrar T.K. Ghosal expressed his dismay over Goyal's death as he was good student and did not seem to suffer from any kind of depression.

"His cumulative grade point average was about eight which is excellent. Moreover, he was jovial and did not seem to suffer from any kind of depression. We are finding it hard to fathom why he chose to end his life," Ghosal told IANS.

The body was handed over to his family after a postmortem was conducted.

Earlier this month 24-year-old S.Boga, a M.Tech student, hailing from Andhra Pradesh, too was found hanging from the ceiling.

"We are extremely concerned with the twin incidents, we have a counseling center where a number of professional and experienced counselors are available whose services can be sought whenever a students feel like.

"But then, there may be other issues in the personal domain which a student may not wish to divulge. In that case we are helpless. We are working to ensure that students seek counseling so that such a unfortunate incident can be prevented," added Ghosal.

238 - Midnapore: IIT Kharagpur student commits suicide

Cities | Press Trust of India | Updated: March 31, 2014 22:29 

Midnapore, West Bengal:  An M.Tech student (dual course) of Chemical Engineering at IIT Kharagpur was found hanging from the ceiling fan of his room at the hostel, the police said today.

The fourth year student, Lokesh Kumar Goyel, 22, was found hanging from the ceiling fan of his room at Radhakrishnan Hall last night, SDPO of Kharagpur, Ajit Singh Yadav said.

The students informed the IIT authorities after Lokesh did not respond when his friends called him to have dinner last night, he said.

He hailed from Rajasthan and was a fourth year student at the IIT.

A suicide note written to his mother was found on the bed and the investigations are underway.