While the media continues to throw the spotlight on suicides in the month of September, students of Saranathan College of Engineering on what drives students to desperate measures, often a result of living a dream that is not their own

Suicide rates come under the scanner this time around every year, with World Suicide Day falling in September. Disturbingly, a large percentage of them are attributed to youth population; student suicides are not uncommon in schools or professional colleges. “Suicide happens when someone loses control of their mind-when they don’t know what to do,” says Chandrasekar, an Information Technology final year student. Almost all students who were part of the discussion admitted to knowing a suicide victim or someone who attempted suicide.

Though failed relationships, academic pressure and importantly embarrassment in front of peers were cited as reasons, it is an uncertainty over the future that may drive a young person to contemplate fatal measures. A continuous pressure cooker situation of living up to expectations and pursuing something which one may have absolutely no interest in, makes matters worse. Medicine and engineering are a matter of prestige today and whether the student has a passion for it does not figure, says P. Ishwerya, a ECE student, “Our parents want to say my son or daughter is studying in X college or has been placed in Y company. I was keen on medicine, but my family stayed put on engineering; now they think IAS would look good with my name!”

“All said and done, we love our parents and cannot see them broken hearted. So we end up living their dream,” says Benny. An evaluation exercise to help students gauge their strengths and weaknesses before choosing a course or profession, parents who are open to ideas of their children, a supportive friend’s circle to fall back on and teachers who encourage your strengths are vital to ensure education is a positive experience for students.

Most students choose engineering to please their parents as basic sciences or humanities is frowned upon. Besides, the ‘successful’ people teachers and parents are familiar with are from these fields for they may not have come across outstanding personalities in dance, filmmaking or sport, unless they live in a metro. So students who join the course with no idea or interest, find engineering harder than they bargained for. Some don’t share their problems and if there is no support network to fall back on, it can spell danger. - Jerry Klinton, Electrical and Electronics Engineering.

Our fates our sealed the minute we are born; if it’s a son he is to become an engineer; if it’s a daughter then she must be a doctor. It starts with the board exams, then it about getting into the right group in Plus 2, then finding a seat in medical or engineering college, then scoring and maintaining a consistent GP, then securing a campus placement. The race never ends and it’s a vicious circle we are trapped in. - Sasikala Murugesan, Instrumentation and Control Engineering.

Self-respect is very important to a young person yet to find her place in life, but under our education system, a student who does not score has no respect or value. Besides, you get branded in school and college as to what you can or cannot do. Symposiums, seminars and cultural festivals may help a student gain exposure, but right from school to college, it is often the ones with the top scores who get to participate, leaving others with no opportunity to discover their skills.- G.Aksharha, B.E Information Technology.

It is our parents who send us for any number of classes in school- chess, swimming, music, dance and sports. But once you are hooked and want to pursue one of these as a passion, they put down their foot. Whatever natural ability or creative instinct we have is suppressed. For students hailing from rural or Tamil medium schools, the initial years are even more of a struggle. Even if they are brilliant, the develop an inferiority complex by indulging in comparisons and end up feeling incompetent. - Rathi Push, Electronic and Communication Engineering.

Even parents are not specific about what they want for us as they have a vague idea about engineering and a few branded companies based on what other parents tell them. I’m undecided what to do next- one minute my fathers suggests Germany would be a good place to pursue higher studies, the next time I hear it is Korea. Doing something you don’t like becomes easier if you are able to do something you love like an activity, hobby or sport that is an outlet for natural abilities.- Benny Mel Sharon, Mechanical Engineering.

Parental influence can work both ways- in my case it was a supportive force. When I was unsure of what to do next after school, my parents did not come up with random options. Instead, they guided me through assessment tests to discover my strengths and weaknesses to see which course or profession would be suitable for me. If the environment you grow up in teaches you how to handle pressure, when you are groomed to think positive always and your family reassures you that they will have your back, you can overcome any situation. - R.Deepak, B.E. Computer Science and Engineering.

Saranathan College of Engineering

Named after an educationist and professor of the founder secretary of the college, Saranathan College of Engineering is just over a decade old. With sprawling playgrounds and modern buildings, a distinctive temple-like calm hangs over the institution. There are a number of clubs encouraging various activities in the college. It is notable that students here are engaged in community service and are part of various voluntary youth organizations.