The suicide of S. Dhyriya Lakshmi is the fourth such death by a college student in the last two months. Are today's youngsters taking such extreme steps because of the stress they face or have such incidents happened earlier as well but are now getting increasing media attention? Perhaps both, say experts.

“There are youngsters who are vulnerable as they are leading a transitional life — moving from a small town to a city where there are a number of new things they have to come to terms with,” says psychiatrist Vijay Nagaswami. Whether it is academic pressure or romantic relationships, adaption is the key to survival. Not all higher education institutions have full-time counsellors. According to Mr. Nagaswami, in India there is lot of stigma associated with visiting a psychiatrist. “It can very be stressful for youngsters, but it helps to have a person to talk to,” he says.

Psychiatrists say students are forced to commit suicide when they think that is the only solution to a problem. “When you see something odd or different about a person, inform his/her parents or take him to a counsellor or a responsible person,” suggests M. Thirunavukarasu, immediate-past president of the Indian Psychiatric Society. He urges every institution with over 1,000 people to appoint a full-time counsellor and those with less than 500 people to have at least a part-time counsellor.

“Students are not comfortable with confiding in professors. Having an experienced counsellor helps,” says K. Vijayaraghavan, a student at an engineering college. He added that though the first year is all about adjusting to the new environment, academic pressure builds up in the second and third years.

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