Panic calls continue unabated


Experts say it is time students knew that there is life beyond examinations

CHENNAI: It has been a week since the results of the higher secondary exams were released. But voluntary organisations and hospitals continue to receive panic calls and suicide attempts are still reported in some parts of the city.

Doctors observe that suicides are done on an impulse and many consume acids that are stored in houses for cleaning purposes.

“In many cases, students resort to such attempts thinking that it would not prove fatal, but the incident would help them escape from being blamed for poor performance. Many students think acids kept at homes are not so hazardous and a day of treatment at the hospital will be sufficient to cure them,” Superintendent of Government Royapettah Hospital K. Rajendran said.

But even small doses of such acids can damage the food pipe and can become a life-long ordeal, he says. He urges parents to keep the cleaning chemicals away from the students. It is the reaction from parents, friends and a feeling of shame and guilt that push students to a state of despondency, says Shanti Samuel, director of Sneha. She advises the parents to listen to the students’ reactions without thrusting their views and suggestions.

“It is important we hear what they say without being judgemental. It makes them feel better. You can always discuss their higher studies plans later.”

According to volunteers at Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre, calls from students were the highest on the day after the results. With college admissions about to begin and class X results expected this month end, the Centre predicts that there will be a rise in the number of calls.

While awareness camps conducted in schools by organisations such as Sneha have gone a long way in helping students face exams with confidence, there is a major chunk of the student population who are gripped by the fear of failure, say doctors.

T. Kesavanandhan, father of a class X student, says he is anxious that marks should not disappoint his son.

“I keep telling him that there is life beyond marks and encourage him to pursue his violin class even during exams,” he says.

Support from teachers, too, are crucial for the students to handle depression and they must monitor students even during vacation, says M.E. Felix, former headmistress of a school who meticulously keeps track of her former students’ progress for over 30 years. “While it is difficult to reach out to each student personally, slow learners must be given individual attention without being labelled as unintelligent.”

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