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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

322 - Exam stress drives IIT boy to 'suicide' - The Telegraph, Kolkata

Monday, 04 May 2015 08:34 AM

Mumbai: A third-year BTech student was found dead in an IIT Bombay hostel last night, with a purported suicide note citing academic stress, police said.

Budding chemical engineer Jitesh Sharma, 21, who was from Rohtak in Haryana, had been undergoing counselling for depression, fellow students told The Telegraph.

His body was discovered on the terrace of hostel No. 15 on the IIT Bombay campus at Powai, about 25km from Mumbai. Officers said Jitesh stayed at a different hostel, half a kilometre away.

"He has left a suicide note but we will only come to a definite conclusion about the cause of death after post-mortem," said a sub-inspector at the IIT chowki (post) of Powai police station.

"A container of sodium azide acid, a highly corrosive poison, was found beside his body.... Jitesh had not done well in two exams on April 24 and April 25 and was worried about his placements. He says all this in the suicide note."

Sodium azide is an industrial chemical used in car airbags and as a preservative, among other things, and is highly toxic.

A PTI report quoted a Powai police station officer as saying: "An accidental death report has been registered and further investigation is on."

The agency, which said Jitesh was yet to clear a few subjects from his previous semester, quoted from the purported suicide note: "I should not have been into this field. I did a mistake by passing JE exam. I have learnt to be away from my parents."

In the 2010 movie 3 Idiots, an engineering student named Joy Lobo who is on the verge of failing an exam because of an unfinished project commits suicide.

Jitesh's batch-mates said he had watched the film, like almost all IITians.

"Every IITian can empathise with Joy Lobo but I can't say whether it egged him (Jitesh) on to commit suicide. That would be too far-fetched," an MTech student of electrical engineering at IIT Bombay, who is from Calcutta and knew Jitesh, said.

He said Jitesh's family and friends knew he was undergoing psychiatric counselling for depression.

"He often spoke about academic stress. The IITs put us under incredible stress, and the sheer weight of the assignments does not allow students to sleep more than 3 to 4 hours," said the student, who didn't want to be named fearing involvement in police investigations.

"Plus, after all the toil of the Joint Entrance Examination, if you feel you are not in love with the subject you aspired to read, it can really be very depressing."

He added: "If the police think I knew something about Jitesh, they would certainly question me. That would mean giving them time that I can't afford under current academic pressure...."