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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Concerted Efforts Must to End Student Suicides - New Indian Express

By The New Indian Express
Published: 25th September 2015 06:00 AM

The suicide of a postgraduate engineering student at his hostel room inside the Indian Institute of Technology (Madras) earlier this week is a grim reminder of the absence of suicide prevention mechanisms on campuses. Three years ago a Human Resources Development Ministry Task Force, headed by eminent academician M Anandakrishnan, had painstakingly drafted recommendations to prevent suicides in the IITs. It recommended in-house counselling to identify students with withdrawal symptoms and help them overcome thoughts of quitting in life. Many IITs are yet to act on this.

The number of students, who end their lives is disturbing. The National Crime Records Bureau’s Accidents and Suicides in India report shows that 1,31,666 students had committed suicide last year. This constituted 6.1% of the total suicides. Of this, 2,403 deaths were due to failure in examinations. Between 1981 and 2014 an estimated 81 IITians have ended their lives. 

Even coaching factories for cracking the JEE are turning into suicide hubs. Last June, five students of coaching centres committed suicide in Kota. While peer pressure is attributed as a trigger for students of elite institutions to end lives, there has hardly been any substantive research to ascertain why students who crack tough competitive examinations fail to conquer academic hurdles.

Another factor that significantly contributes to suicides is that in India career choices are thrust on students by parents. School Education Departments could play an active role by roping in psychiatrists and academics to determine a child’s aptitude in classes X and XII and help them choose the right academic course so that they are not under pressure in higher secondary classes or colleges. Parents too must be involved in these counselling sessions.

A 2012 study entitled ‘Suicide Mortality’ in India published in the renowned British medical journal Lancet pointed out that most Indians do not have access to community or support services for the prevention of suicide and have restricted access to care for mental illnesses associated with suicide. Treatment for depression is also not widely available. Therefore, combined and concerted efforts by the Education and Health Departments on this front would certainly help to curb student suicides.