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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Teaching shops of India: Are Tamil Nadu college campuses turning into suicide dens? - IBN Live

Posted on: 09:05 AM IST Feb 01, 2016 

Even as the nation rose up in protest against the untimely death of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula who committed suicide in Hyderabad, a string of student suicides went almost unnoticed in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. CNN-IBN delved deep into the murky education sector to find out why Tamil Nadu's campuses are turning into suicide dens.

On January 23, a suicide pact came to light in Tamil Nadu's Villupuram district. Three young students - Priyanka, Saranya and Monisha - were found in a well near the SVS College of Yoga and Naturopathy where they were studying.

Tamil Nadu has the dubious distinction of being a close second to Maharashtra in terms of the number of suicides in 2014.

An alleged suicide note signed jointly by the three young girls spoke of harassment at college, exorbitant fees and lack of infrastructure, facilities and teachers.

Tamil Nadu has the dubious distinction of being a close second to Maharashtra in terms of the number of suicides in 2014. Chennai in fact has topped the suicide charts amongst metros for four years in a row.

The percentage share of total suicides in 2014, according to the NCRB data, is 12.4% in Maharashtra and 12.2% in Tamil Nadu. In 2013, the percentage share of suicides in both Maharashtra as well as Tamil Nadu was 12.3%, while in 2012, Tamil Nadu was at 14% and Maharashtra at 13.4%.

With lakhs of students jostling and vying for the top spot, academic life is no longer much fun.

KS Antonysamy, Director-Public Relations, Loyola College Chennai, said, "Speaking about pressures on students, mainly it's academic pressures – scores, placement qualification, reluctance to take examinations. There's psychological pressure of peer group as well, when students, especially disadvantaged ones from rural areas, want to fit in. Finance is also a pressure, for it is tough for many students from villages to pay and stay in hostels."

The suicide epidemic regularly sweeps through premier institutes like the IIT Madras. In 2015 alone, two students took their own lives out of sheer academic pressure. Since 1981, over 75 students have committed suicide in all the IITs, according to media reports. Of the 75 cases of suicide, 20 were in Kanpur, 13 each in Kharagpur and Madras, 11 in Bombay, six each in Delhi and Guwahati, while five were in Roorkee.

According to Dr Lakshmi Vijaykumar, a Mental Health Expert with the World Health Organisation, even the IITs are not spared and the number of suicides that take place can be blamed on the education system.

After battling various such pressures, a student finally graduates, only to find the he or she is unemployable, because the quality of education is said to be so poor in Tamil Nadu.