Several incidents of suicide by students have come to light in the recent past in many cities, including Chennai, Kota, Mumbai, Pune, Varanasi etc. Social disparities, lack of bonding and exam pressure have been some of the prominent reasons that drove these students to take the extreme step.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 10 per cent of adolescents globally experience a mental disorder. What adds to the concern is that these youngsters usually are without any help or care.
Statistics show that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 19 years old. According to experts, these figures serve as a wake-up call to educational institutions that mental health disorder among students is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
According to Union Minister of State for Education, Subhas Sarkar, six students have committed suicide in higher educational institutions like IITs and NITs so far this year. Last year, 16 students had died by suicide, seven in 2021, five in 2020, 16 in 2019 and 11 in 2018.
In the last five years, a total of 55 students have died by suicide in institutions like IITs, NITs, and IIMs.
Recently, an 18-year-old Dalit student committed suicide in IIT Bombay, by jumping off the seventh floor of his hostel building.
Sarkar said that several steps are being taken by the concerned institutes to reduce academic stress.
He said that all the courses have been introduced in regional languages now to reduce stress among the students.
As a part of this initiative, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has released the complete syllabus of 12 different technical courses in regional languages.
Psychiatrist A.K. Bhamri said: "After the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of students suffering from mental disorders because of various reasons, including exam pressure, academic stress, competition among classmates as well as family pressure. Moreover, as the level of competition for admission in institutions is increasing, the pressure on students is also going up. Also, there needs to be a conducive environment to prioritise wellness."
Educationist C.S. Kandpal said that the time when a student prepares for any examination is especially important and stressful. The second such situation occurs when the results of these exams are declared, making the students feel anxious.
He said that there is a need to motivate the student during that time.
Kandpal added that sometimes, students' mental health gets affected by how parents respond to different situations at home, throughout the preparatory cycle.
He said: "There should be regular interaction and dialogue between the students and their parents. Students must be made to understand that exams are not the end of the road."
According to Hansraj Suman from Delhi University, students studying in higher educational instiutions also take the extreme step because of being lonely and not being able to socialise with their peers.
Suman added that students in IITs and other similar educational institutions come from different parts of the country, and their dialect, lifestyle, economic and education level differ from each other.
He said that familial pressure also leads to a situation where a student somehow believes that he/she is a failure.
He concluded that sometimes not getting the desired course in such higher educational institutions even after due preparation and hard work also leads to cases of suicides among students.