A helpline – 24640050 – has been launched to address stress among students

It is D-day for students, teachers and schools that are expecting rank holders and anxiety levels are soaring. While some students decided to spend Monday night watching television or sleep early, a majority spent time speculating over how the Physics paper would affect their overall percentage.

Arpana, who is in her home town Calicut, might be far away from the buzz and anxiety that has enveloped her classmates in the city but she is equally anxious. “The physics paper was tough and we did not get to hear anything about the correction even after the examinations, adding to my tension,” says Arpana, who was all set to occupy her mind by watching T.V..

Vasantha Kumar, on the other hand, returned home from a holiday on Monday, just in time for the results, and is also hoping for the best, although he too had found physics tough.

“I am relaxed now,” he says, although he wonders whether he will be the same as the time of announcement approaches. “I don't think there will be a power cut tomorrow because of the results, anyway there are many options - I will get it on my mobile,” he says, adding that his father might go to office late to catch the results.

Others such as Sai Vinay Chaitanya, a Chennai School student of Virugambakkam, and friends have decided to stay at home and check the results online but are unhappy about two extra hours of tension. “11 a.m. is too late. I wish it was at 9 a.m. – like the previous years. The tension is only going to get prolonged,” he adds.

Amidst all this tension, volunteers of SNEHA, an organisation working towards the prevention of suicides, are in the thick of action.

May is the busiest month in terms of the number of calls they receive. Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder, Sneha says: “Students call us with all kinds of worries but – ‘I am very scared. What will happen if I don't get the required marks? What will everybody think, - seems to be the most evident concern.”

The ‘most vulnerable' she says, are students who know they will fail but have told everybody that they will score well. They are petrified of been seen as not only those who failed but also lied.

Dr. Vijayakumar explains that the ‘borderline category' comprises students who are not sure of their performance and expect to fail in a subject or two.

“The stress caused by one's own expectations tends to disturb a child more than family or peer pressure,” she explains, noting how the helpline has been getting many calls from students who are sure of performing well but not of getting the marks they require to get a seat in a reputed college. “They face a lot of stress because they want to make it to colleges on their own merit, and not through management quota.”

According to volunteers at SNEHA, every year, when examination results are announced, more than 2,000 students in the 15-25 age group, commit suicide when they realise they have failed. In 2010, 2,479 students committed suicide across the country. Of these, 240 suicides were in Tamil Nadu

“Parents and society in general need to move away from the belief that ‘Board marks decide your destiny,” Dr. Vijayakumar explains. “Nobody's life is ‘set' at 16. I always ask the students to think of their favourite celebrity and then their board marks. I tell them that Rajnikanth or Tendulkar are not known by their marks. They followed by their passion, and did well, despite failures.” Sneha has launched another helpline 24640060 (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.), in addition to their existing 24-hour helpline, 24640050, to exclusively address student stress following the announcing of examination results.