Existential angst

LOTS OF love and loads of emotions make college life enchanting. Ideas flourish turning them into dreams and the roads are laid to fulfil those ambitions. Life blooms here in all its glory. But not for everyone. Some lives whither and the trend, unfortunately seems to be on the rise.

Nearly 10 students ended their lives in the last month in the city colleges, the latest being Prashant, an Engineering student. The reason cited in the suicide note was harassment by teachers.

The others had different reasons like love and pressure or even parents' scolding for the drastic step. What drives them to the extreme step? "The frustration of not attaining their set goals and imagined failures in life," says Dr. K. Ravichandran, who teaches Psychology at the Osmania University. Outwardly the reasons may look different but the root cause of the suicides is their imagined failures. He says students with suicidal tendencies first isolate themselves and the withdrawal symptoms can be easily noticed. The remedial measures he suggests are making personality development an integral part of education. "There is no scope for personality development in the present education system. The Government and the academics should seriously think of incorporating a personality development course right from the Intermediate stage." However, he has an advice for the students with suicidal tendencies, "having a weakness is not a problem at all and it is a part of growing up." So, the youngsters should not get demoralised and take the extreme step.

The student community is surely shaken by suicides among their peers and they feel pressure from parents, teachers and peers is the cause of this social evil. "It makes us nervous as the news glares at us every morning. More so, when the reasons are related to academics," says Kiran Reddy, an M.Sc (Computer Science) at the University College of Science, Osmania University. He feels parents should understand that every student cannot succeed as the topper does. However, a few others like Manikeshwari, an MCA student, feels teachers should be careful in dealing with students.

"They are the best guides and they should handle them carefully. Students undergo terrible mental stress and agony when they covertly express displeasure or anger over their poor performance." She also feels films tend to glamorise the evil and project a sense of heroism in such steps, particularly if it's a case of love. "A study by The Week magazine last year estimated that about 4,000 students take their lives each year and it reflects the lacunae in the system. One cannot relate it to just academics and there is lot a more to it. It's time the officials seriously ponderover the reasons and save precious lives," says, Neelima, a B.Tech final year student of Srinidhi Institute of Science and Technology.

However, The A.P. State Council for Higher Education (APSCHE), Chairman, C. Subba Rao is of the opinion that the head of the institute should take a pro-active role. "There should be a help desk where students with low self-esteem can share their problems and let out the frustration. We have been asking them to have this facility but only a few have responded", he says.

The State Government seems to have realised the need to tackle the menace and it has called for a meeting of principals at the Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence, Ramakrishna Math on November 2. "We are also sending circulars to all the heads and addressing the academic staff colleges on this issue".


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