If you haven't yet heard about recent student suicides across India, you may be living under a rock. Education, which helped us learn and gain information, is broken as its system has become accustomed to rote-learning and is stress-oriented.
The FPJ talked to college-going students to understand what their institutions are doing to prevent suicides. Dipayan, a student at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), said that his University is doing its bit in implementing measures. He said, "Our college has a committed student council and other groups that we can contact. Though there will always be a stigma attached to asking for help."
Despite student affairs in India being in a concerning state for both boys and girls, the former often fall into the stereotype of 'successors'.
"I think this happens because of pressure from society and parents. In this Indian culture, boys are usually under more pressure than girls. We have to meet so many expectations," added Dipayan, who is in his second year of college.
The National Suicide Prevention Week began on September 10 till September 16, highlighting the tragedy of not being able to root out early student deaths.
A study by Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India (ADSI) in 2021 further revealed that that more than 35 students kill themselves every day.
Samiksha Patel, who is studying Mechanical Engineering, stated that she has had suicidal thoughts which the college might not entirely help with. "The college has set up a number that is operational 24/7 and gives free counseling, and psychiatric care. The college can do some things to take care of the student's mental health, but their opinions and friends also shape their actions," stated Samiksha, from an engineering institute.
In 2021, National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) reported that 13,089 (or 8 percent) of all deaths in India were of students, a jump from 7,696 (5.7%) in 2011.
"Schools and colleges should compulsorily have counselors and psychologists who are equipped to help students through any kind of loss," urged an Engineering student.
Pressure from parents, and peers affects mental health
India is known for having an orthodox view of parents making decisions for children. Siddharth Tata, from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham College, discussed how parents have unrealistic standards for their kids. "Your parents say things like, "Beta, you need to be first in college, or at least in the top three."
"When you don't meet expectations of a good job or a grade you start to feel like a failure, and after being shamed over and over again, you take such a big step," added Siddharth.
Authorities making a difference
With some institutions putting the brakes on certain courses to make it easier for students, suicides at Kota and Jadavpur have proved there's a lot of undone work.
The incidents have also led to the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare coming together to put out the National Suicide Prevention Strategy in January 2023.
The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has further emphasised the importance of counseling systems in schools.
"Let the kids know that it's okay to ask for help. Assure them that someone is willing to listen and be there too," asserted Siddharth.