With 25 students and counting this year in Kota, also, recently at IITs and even at homes, aspirants are feeling suicidal. What are the reasons for this and what can be the possible solutions?
Suicide or Murder?
Lucius Annaeus Seneca had once said, “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage”. When we read between the lines we tend to find the situation in which he must have said it. Then the question arises is there anything more important than life? Life is to live but it comes with ample ideas of survival. Survival with dignity, with pride, with money, with happiness, with respect and this is where the issue begins. The fact of every child who gets exposed to the concepts of life, money, respect and starts running in the rat race which was created for him by the society. This seems to be very philosophical but unfortunately this is the reality of our education system in which every year many student give up on their lives and as Lucius Annaeus Seneca said living becomes an act of courage.
The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) had came up with the report in 2021 says there are 1,64,033 suicides in the complete year from which 8% are students. This count is increasing day by day. Almost 27 Students kill themselves every single day in our country. What could be the reasons behind it? What is making them take their own life?
- Unprecedented Competition (Rat Race) – The competition in our country have multiple It could be lack of resources (Educational Institutes, Faculty, etc) over number of aspirants. Giving the example of one of the most competitive examinations, in 2023 National Eligibility cum Entrace Test (NEET) got the applications of 20.87 Lakh competitors for 55,000 seats of medical colleges in our country. Every parent want their child to be Doctor or engineer and Student have to go through the rat race which starts with the note of being 0.02% of Success ratio. Students never get exposed to such rat race and don’t know how to cope with it. This makes them fall for the thought of suicide.
- Wrong choice of career in Peer pressure – Let us consider the 20.87 Lakh students who are applying for it genuinely find the interest in the career or have the passion to pursue it, but this is not the fact. Majority of the students do fill up the form in peer pressure. The age in which these students give these examinations is 16-18 years of age. These students don’t even know where they identify themselves and choose the career out of fear of missing out. Till the time they find their own interest and plan of action, they had already wasted crucial time of their life in competing for something they never wanted. They find themselves in the wrong place and no means to get out which leads them to suicide.
- Parental Pressure – Whenever student decides to take up these exams parents never question it. As it becomes the matter of pride that their child would become Doctor or engineer one They put up lakhs of rupees for coaching by extra ordinary effort and many a times loans. Now they expect their child to come out victorious irrespective of the hardships he would go through or whether he genuinely have any interest in whatever he chose to pursue. Parents keep on pushing the child to do well by pumping the money into the preparation which the child wants to get out of and it becomes a vicious cycle for the child which makes him completely helpless and leads them to suicide.
- Lack of socialization – The aspirants usually go into the hubs of coachings like Kota, Delhi, which cuts them out from their circle. The only motive of their life becomes to do well in the competitive exam. They get nobody to share their issues, hardships, fears, unproductivity. Fierce competition these students are exposed to in these hubs is unimaginable. They are only recognised for their academic excellence and their WORTH is decided on that basis. Once their confidence is finished they have nobody to go and talk to. Lack of socialization never permits them to recover and work harder. They keep on having wrong notions about themselves and unfortunately take their own life.
- Over glorified successful candidates – The successful candidates especially All India rankers are projected as gods. The young prodegee is shown as the only person being successful in life. Other students who are trying for the exams are told that if they don’t get through the exam their life becomes worthless and has nothing to do henceforth. When average students look at the toppers and the special treatment given to the topppers, they start putting up question on their own being. They just keep the comparison through one spectrum and consider themselves failure. The person who is getting Computer Science Engineering in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay is the definition of success, the students getting into other IITs or engineering institutes are worthless and would not be successful in life, this notion is taking the lives.
- Factories like Kota creating excessive pressure on Students – All the points above gets excess when a child goes into the hub like Kota or Delhi. That city becomes his warzone and he just wants to get out of that place victorious. These cities create more pressure on students and students start getting towards alcoholism, drugs. These cities have proper established business who are parasite on the pressurized students in the city. These students have no life out of IIT or NEET preparations. They aren’t aware what is happening out in the world, the development taking place, the future prospects. This isolates them and they find nothing else but these means to help themselves out. Eventhough students are taking their life in homes as well but majority of the suicides take place in these Hubs.
- Groupisms existing in big institutes like IITs – Once the student gets out of such hubs and one of the toughest competitive examinations, he comes into the life he always wanted to live. When we think that a child is in the IIT, AIIMS then there shouldn’t be any issue which will take him to extreme of giving up on his life. These big institutes have extreme groupism. Major reason being the reservation system through which candidates belonging to backward class do come to study and second being the difference in the fee structure that exist. 33 IIT students died by suicide in last 5 years and over half of them were students from Scheduled Caste (SC) & Other Backward Caste (OBC) background. IIT Bombay survey in 2022 said that 1 out of 3 SC/OBC students are asked about their caste, 15.5% faced mental health issues from caste based discrimination, 1 in 3 students felt SC/OBC Cells need to do more to address casteism issues. This is one of the biggest reasons after exam and job pressures that is taking lives of students studying in these prestigious institutes.
- Passion for learning is missing – The student worked hard to achieve what he/she always wanted. He got into the big institute and then realise that this is not something what they were looking forward to. Here we have the relevance of Point 1 & 2 that we talked about. The hasty decision taken out of peer and parental pressure led that bright student to get into the IIT. His/her efforts made him reach the institute and branch where they wanted to be and then when they realise that this was definitely not something they have the passion for and there is no moving back from here. They start giving up on the studies. Heavy academic pressure take their life as they never had the passion to pursue engineering or medicine as their profession. This leads them to take their own life and world loses major brilliant minds this way. They were one of the bright minds but just because they landed up in wrong place they lost their life.
- Education has become competition – Unfortunately in today’s competitive world Education has become the mean to employment. This thought leads to competition and the rat race. Every aspect of life comes back to getting employment after the education and the big institutes like IIT, IIM, AIIMS do provide those avenues to earn big money to live the life these students always wished to live. But when we ask ourselves the question was education was introduced only for the sake of employment? Education is for self actualisation, awareness about the life. It is not the competition with the world outside but the competition with oneself, it is the journey of self-improvement but it is not taken under consideration.
- Marks are celebrated not the efforts – In competitive exams, efforts are considered to be secondary while your marks are the only attribute to the efforts you had Nobody cares what you do whether you work hard or smart the only thing that matters is whether you got the required marks. Somewhere this thing creates unnecessary pressure on the students to get the marks irrespective whether they are understanding what they are studying. The students when don’t get marks and get judged for their efforts, start losing hope and give up on their efforts as well. They take the extreme step to finish their life.
We tried to know a few reasons behind these suicides. There are many more aspects that affect the mental health of the child in the tender age. Unfortunately, we are losing on bright students of our country to these reasons. Now is the time that we need to address this issue and look forward to better future for upcoming generations.
- Acceptance that the problem exists – Gladly, when we talk or give the thought that suicides in our country is the problem, we tend to accept the problem that exists and tend to find solutions. Giving no attention to it will not fetch the solution at all. We need to address the issue prevalent in the youth, our necessity is to work on the basics of career building.
- Aptitude Test just after 10th Standard – Many times students are not aware what they wish to pursue in their life. They are not aware of the avenues available to them and they struggle to find the field where the abilities they have would be uitilised for the For this we need to introduce government built aptitude test which will enable to students to choose the path they need to choose. This can be a centralised test which would give the basic idea about the aptitude and skill that student posses. In this process teachers will pay pivotal role as teachers would be maintaining the complete record of the student from the start of the year about the extra curricular activities the student participated in and the practical skill he/she posses. It wouldn’t be the test of students only but even teachers need to submit their input about the student.
- Career counselling in schools – As the results of aptitude test come it is the time students should know how to excel in the field they would be choosing. The hardships they might face and how they should prepare for those issues beforehand. Different avenues they can have in that field. It is important that we introduce one of the leading persons of that particular career to the students. Example being if students who have the aptitude to pursue the medical field then we can introduce them to one of the leading doctors of the locality which would enable them to know the actual field experience. If not that this can be done even on the centralised system. We can take interviews of these leading career professionals and enable students to know the actual life of the profession.
- Talking about mental health issues with students – The solutions above were about the choice of career where students usually falter and lead to mental issues in later part of their life. Now it is the time to discuss the short term solutions that are required to be addressed. Unfortunately even today in our society mental health is considered to be a taboo subject. People avoid talking about it or consider it to be elite problem. Now is the time that we talk to our students about the mental health issues they can face. They should know how to get treated if they face any issue as such. Today internet has definitely eased out the process but the credibility of the people who are talking about mental health on the internet is still the question. Talking about mental health from parents is very important. This will enable the children to feel free and talk to their parents. If this is addressed we would be able to save majority of lives.
- Counselling sessions for the students in hubs like Kota – When it comes to hubs like Kota, it is essential that students should not fall prey to drugs and alcoholism. The most important thing here is addressing their problems, talking to them about it, considering their problems and finding solutions for them. This can be achieved by counselling sessions that can happen in these big institutes. They have the turnover of millions of rupees and appointing few psychologists wouldn’t be big deal for them. If we appoint psychologists students can have regular sessions with them and if any suicidal tendencies are rising they could be curbed and treated at the initial stage itself. The reports of these sessions should also reach the parents who would understand how their child is doing mentally and about his well being.
Creating environment of learning over competition – The competitive environment in which the students are kept in this hub creates a divide in students for no reason. Toppers would be taught by special teacher, who are not performing their best would be taught by junior teachers. This creates a competitive environment and disturbs the learning process. Definitely the students working harder should be incentivized but this method creates an inferiority complex in students. Rather we can keep the balanced classrooms where students doing well would help the struggling students. This will enable a symbiotic relation between them as both will grow in the learning which is important.
Understanding that student/child is more important than examination – Exams or career is part of our life and not our life. We have to imbibe this in our students. Their life has importance even more than these exams. We should keep the example of those people who never got through these exams but still are able to do wonders in their own fields. They should realise that even though they feel like switching their field its never too late. Killing themselves will not fetch any solution and their being is important has to be conveyed to them. Creating a figure of failure will put them in undue pressure. There should be clear instructions to teachers to tell students that this is just one exam and not the only chance to prove themselves and lead the life they wish for themselves.
- Promoting Buddy System and Mentor System in Hubs – In hubs we can create buddy The seniors who are there for a comparatively longer time should be paired with the juniors for their small issues. Small issues comprises of food, coping with the classes, hostels, stress management, advices for better being. We must also include teachers in this. The mentor system that is nothing but the student will have direct access to the teachers for the issues they might be facing in their subjects as well as personal life. The buddy should also keep the mentor updated about the issues that were conveyed by the junior. This will enable them to create a better environment and keep the check on student’s mental health. The suicidal tendencies would definitely reduce when the students get someone to talk to.
- Counselling sessions for Parents – When the students enter into the competitive exam, the entire house gets into the process. Hence as much students need to be told about the hardships, even the parents should be made aware of the hardships and mental stress their child would be going through. If parents keep the stance of empathy and keep their child motivated, if they keep on telling him how important he is to them, if they keep telling him its okay if he wants to come back then and only then the child would be mentally free from any fear and Parents are the biggest support system of the child in these times. Even though parents know about these things, they aren’t completely aware of the situation their child would be going through. They should be told that their role doesn’t finish after the payment of hefty fees in the coaching institute rather it starts when they all decide to back their child into these exams. Time has come that parents should make their child comfortable and tell him that his life is beyond these exams.
- Introduction of Smooth Exit System for Students – The exit system is nothing but when the student understands that the competitive exam is not something he is willing to pursue, he should have a smooth exit system in which he should also get some predecided amount back. Example being if a student gets to know within 3-6 months of education that he wants to withdraw, he should be given the predecided amount back. This will enable the child to take the path which he finds himself better at. Rather parents would be more than happy to see their child happy. Monetarily weaker families would get their predecided money back which would save them from getting insolvent.
- Promoting Government schemes like E Manas – Government being aware of all these situations, trying to make different portals and calling helplines like E This is the calling help line number available in all 22 languages of schedule 8 of Indian constitution. It makes sure to help the patient come out of issues like depression, anxiety, fear. Special doctors or psychologists give advices to these callers. In the time of suicidal thought even one idea of optimism can help the child coming out of it hence these helplines become really important. Not just governmental but also some NGOs have helplines which promote to talk about the problems or save people from the mouth of suicide.
Suicide is the loss of life of one which takes away life of many others. Especially death of young boys and girls ends all aspirations of parents. Time has come that we should save our youth from this threat. Letting them know that life is bigger than these exams, letting them live their life to the fullest, making them learn new things, letting them pursue the career they want would definitely help the youth to grow in a beautiful manner. As said by Swami Vivekananda Take risk in your life, if you win, you may lead, if you lose, you may guide. Life always gives opportunities to find the silver lining, let’s teach our students to see that lining and lead their life to glorious future for themselves, their family, their city, state and country. Every student’s life is a story waiting to be written, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that they have the support and resources to navigate their challenges. Suicide is not an ending we can accept, but a problem we must address with compassion, understanding, and proactive intervention.
By: Ojas Chandurkar