Student suicides go up

More students ended their lives in 2020 than 2019: NCRB

Published - November 27, 2021 11:10 pm IST - Hyderabad

More students ended their lives in 2020 than 2019, according to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Student suicides spiked to a new high of 12,526 in 2020 contributing 8.2% deaths, while farmer suicide rate stayed constant at 7.4% in 2019 and 2020. The biggest spike in deaths was recorded in Odisha, where the number of student suicides reached 1,469, a jump of 287% over 2019, when there were 379 deaths. Only Maharashtra recorded more student suicides than Odisha with 1,648 young people ending their lives. However in Telangana, 489 students ended their lives as against 426 in 2019.

Psychologists have been flagging the issue of mental health due to COVID lockdown where students stayed cooped up at homes without access to classrooms or emotional socialisation for nearly 18 months.

“There was a big jump in phone calls we received at our helpline number. As we have age-wise data, the number of calls from youngsters were higher at 26% for those under 20. The biggest chunk of calls from people in 20-45 age group was at 64%,” says T. Ushasree, director of Roshni, an NGO that helps people having suicidal thoughts.

The sharp rise in number of suicides bely expectations that cancellation of examinations due to COVID would have led to less stress.

“Last year was very traumatic for schoolchildren as they had to deal with tension and fear while staying at home,” said a volunteer at the suicide helpline.

In a pandemic year, when the two main educational boards in the country cancelled examinations for all students and there was near 100% promotion to the next class, this data comes as a surprise to many.

“Usually it is exam and its outcome that students are worried about. But in 2020, there was uncertainty about everything. The younger children were worried about how they will progress to the next class. The older ones about career and job prospects,” said Ms. Ushasree.

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