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Thursday, August 30, 2012

160 - Exam stress, failed love drive students to suicide - TNN

Karthikeyan Hemalatha, TNN Apr 9, 2012, 03.31AM IST

CHENNAI: Non-governmental organisations working to prevent suicides in the city are preparing to be inundated with calls over the next three months, when summer peaks and there is an ominous increase in the number of people, especially students, who end their lives.

City-based NGO Sneha received most calls in April, May and June last year. The number of calls went up by three to four times the average. "We received 26 calls in April, 99 in May and 52 in June. We usually get around 15 calls a month from students," said Sneha founder and doctor Lakshmi Vijayakumar.

Students in the city seem to be failing to cope with examination stress or failure in relationships. "The problem is when you peg self-esteem on one aspect of life. When you fail in that aspect, there seem to be no other choice," Vijayakumar said.

Tamil Nadu has the highest number of suicides in the country, accounting for 12.3% of all suicide deaths in the country, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau. A total of 240 people in the state committed suicide due to academic failure in 2011, with almost 10% of the cases in Chennai. In the same year, there were 588 deaths due to failure in love. Of these, 61 were reported in Chennai.

Three students of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras committed suicide in 2011. Kuldeep Yadav, the student who ended his life on Sunday, was the sixth IIT-M student to commit suicide since October 2008.

Nitin Kumar Reddy hanged himself in May 2011 and V Anoop committed suicide in February 24. According to their classmates at IIT-M, they were under academic pressure, with both their theses being overdue by at least six months. 

"Incidentally, both of them were under the same professor who gave them both extensions to finish their theses," said a student who did not want to be named.

Sneha's Vijayakumar said there are several factors that lead to extreme academic pressure in the IITs. "One is a ranking system which shows performance relative to others and the other is the autonomous nature of the system. There is very minimal external evaluation and if a student gets into the bad books of a professor, things can get very bad," she said.

Yadav's suicide will only be added to the statistics as there is no real support system in the city. Madras Christian College in Tambaram has found a way to curb suicides on campus. "All the fans have been removed in the hostels to prevent suicides by hanging. All the students now have air coolers," a former student said.