Student suicides rising, 28 lives lost every day

According to a 2012 Lancet report, suicide rates in India are highest in the 15-29 age group — the youth population.   | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

“Live a little every day, ek hi zindagi mili hai (You have got but one life).” These were the last few words found on an eight-page-long note written by a deceased postgraduate student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IIT-H). The student was found dead on July 2 last year in his hostel room.

Every hour one student commits suicide in India, with about 28 such suicides reported every day, according to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The NCRB data shows that 10,159 students died by suicide in 2018, an increase from 9,905 in 2017, and 9,478 in 2016.

Maharashtra had the highest number of student suicides in 2018 with 1,448 — almost 4 suicides every day — followed by Tamil Nadu with 953 and Madhya Pradesh with 862.

Between 1999 and 2003, 27,990 students ended their lives; 28,913 between 2004 and 2008; and 36,913 between 2009 and 2013. The 2014-18 period saw a 26% jump from the preceding 5-year period to 46,554.

Hold a mirror to education system

Suicides in premier institutes such as IITs hold a mirror to the education system. As per data from the Department of Higher Education, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), 27 students across 10 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) committed suicide between 2014 and 2019. IIT Madras tops the list, with seven students losing their lives during this period.

In April last year, 19 students in Telangana committed suicide in a week after the State’s intermediate results were announced. Two years back, in another tragic incident in Madhya Pradesh, 12 students including six girls ended their lives in a single day after the release of the board exam’s results.

Kota, primarily known as a coaching centre hub, has seen a series of student deaths every year. As per the data available from the district administration, 58 students ended their lives in Kota between 2013 and 2017.

Rate highest in the 15-29 age group

According to a 2012 Lancet report, suicide rates in India are highest in the 15-29 age group — the youth population. The report says that among men, 40% suicides were by individuals aged 15-29, while for women it was almost 60%.

Mrugesh Vaishnav, president of the Indian Psychiatric Society said, “Stress, anxiety disorder, depression, personality disorder — all these result in mental illness that leads a student towards suicide. This happens when the students are not familiar/satisified with his or her surroundings.” Relationship breakdown is another leading cause.

In 2017, Lokniti-CSDS released a survey which showed that 4 out of 10 students went through depression. The survey conducted in the age group 15-34 years also found that one out of every four youth moderately suffered from depression, loneliness, worthlessness and suicidal thoughts. Six per cent of them got suicidal thoughts at least once.

Md. Sanjeer Alam, faculty at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, said, “A student commits suicide when he doesn’t get emotional support at the time of crisis. This might happen when individual expectations are too high. Parental and peer pressure also have an adverse effect.”

A.K. Joshi, Professor and Head of Sociology, Banaras Hindu University, stated, “Academic stress is an obvious factor for students taking their own lives. After studying to a certain level when they feel they are supportless or he/she can’t fulfil their own and their parents’ role expectations, a role conflict starts within the student. In this type of situation students feel they are left without any choice and so they take such an extreme step.”

Pradip Kumar Saha, Director of Institute of Psychiatry, Kolkata, said, “Fear of failure is a leading cause for suicide among students. When students pass through an unsuccessful phase, everything seems pessimistic to them. They feel their future is bleak and this may result in committing suicide.”

Those in distress or having suicidal tendencies could seek help and counselling by calling any of the following numbers:

Telangana Roshni - 040-6620 2000

Andhra Pradesh 1Life - 78930-78930

Karnataka Arogya Sahayavani - 104

Tamil Nadu Sneha - 044- 24640050

Delhi Sanjivini, Society for Mental Health - 011-4076 9002, Monday-Saturday, 10 am -7.30 pm

Mumbai BMC Mental Health Helpline: 022-24131212

Vandrevala Foundation: 18602662345/18002333330

I Call - 022-25521111, Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

ASRA - 022 2754 6669

The Samaritans Mumbai: 8422984528/842984529/8422984530, 3 p.m. -9 p.m., all days

Bengaluru Sahai - 080-25497777, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Kochi Maitri — 0484-2540530, Chaithram — 0484-2361160

Kolkata Lifeline Foundation - 033-24637401/32

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 12:57:01 AM |

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