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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

325 - Campus dealt a death blow - Asian Age

May 04, 2015 | Age Correspondent

Sharman Joshi in a still from 3 Idiots, a film that addressed student suicides

Student suicide has been a burning issue and counsellors believe that there needs to be greater awareness about depression itself

Jitesh Sharma, a student of IIT-Bombay, was found dead on the terrace of a hostel on the campus on Saturday evening. The 21-year-old chemical engineering student was reportedly suffering from depression. News reports further suggested that he was unhappy with his academic choices; and he even indicated in his suicide note that he was depressed. This is the second case in the campus in less than a year. In September last year, Aniket Ambhore, jumped to death from the sixth-floor balcony of a hostel on the campus.

Student suicide has been a burning issue and counsellors and psychiatrists believe that there needs to be greater awareness about depression itself. Often, displacement and the need to constantly prove themselves creates turmoil. The issues could range from a burn out, homesickness or students thinking that they are not in the right place or the right field.

Prachi Chitre, counselor at Institute of Psychological Health, observes, “Students often find themselves in a continuous battle of constantly having to prove themselves to their family, friends, and faculty. They want to live up to others’ expectations and make sure that nobody thinks that they got into the institution just by chance. Also, when students come from smaller cities to study in a big city like Mumbai, they experience a culture shock and cultural differences may become a matter of conflict between them and their peers. They may find it difficult to fit in and hence, may experience isolation and loneliness. This in turn gives rise to an inferiority complex. All this just becomes a fatal mix.”

The IIT-Bombay campus currently houses 8,000 students with an active counseling cell, with a clinical psychologist and a full-time counselor; round the year workshops on stress-management and even an IIT-B care health page on Facebook. 

However, these initiatives seem to fall short. Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty says, “I’m not putting the blame on IIT-Bombay but more such projects need to be undertaken by the college. 

With at least 8,000 students on campus, they probably need to put in more efforts.” Paras Sharma, programme coordinator for the pan-India psycho-social counselling helpline iCALL, says, “Students often shy away from seeking help because they are worried that someone may come to know about it, or their parents would come to know about it. Even calling a suicide-prevention helpline is still a struggle. People should be made more aware of this issue.”

Rashmi Uday Kumar, public relations officer for IIT-Bombay also admits that while measures have been taken, a lot still needs to be done. She says, “We do have a counseling centre and training counselors visiting the campus. We also have an IIT B-Care health page where we have been getting good response. Since it is voluntary, not everyone has shown interest in these sessions. It is unfortunate that the boy decided to end his life. He wasn’t doing well in studies but he was improving academically, and that is what makes it more shocking.”

Savita Pawar, parent to a 23-year-old, explains that maybe open communication between a parent and a child coupled with no burden of expectations would help understand the child’s aspirations. She says, “As parents, maybe we need to put ourselves in their shoes and judge things from their perspective.”

Symptoms of depression
The person in question could be irritable or even casually talking about death
They could spend a lot more time sleeping
They also develop a tendency to avoid people
They display a general lack of enthusiasm in everyday activities
It is also important to pay attention to what they are saying.
A person who is at a risk of committing suicide generally tries to communicate that he/she needs help. Therefore, warning signs should never be ignored.
(Inputs by Dr. Harish Shetty and Prachi Chitre)

A report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in September 2014 states:
India’s suicide rate was 21.1 per 1,00,000 people, according to the report.
India accounted for the highest estimated number of suicides overall in 2012.

Over 800,000 people commit suicide every year and it is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds globally.
Source: Preventing suicide:
A global imperative;