“Dear Students –Suicide is not the solution"......by Gurjot Singh Kaler
Each life is precious. Over the past few days, it has been really disheartening to read about the tragic cases of suicides of students in Kota, Rajasthan. From the newspapers and media reports, the ostensible cause of such suicides seems to be the academic oriented competitive pressure on the vulnerable youngsters.
It is a matter of dire introspection to indulge in heavy brainstorming and analyse as to what is basically wrong with our education system that is compelling the youth to seek refugee in death over life.
The field of education has always been considered to be a noble vehicle of progressive emancipation of an individual. But the current spate of suicides in Kota, Rajasthan forces one to put our head and hearts together in order to arrive at a worthwhile solution.
The suicides by students cannot be just attributed to Kota; it is actually a national problem of India wherein the parental, peer-group, societal and exam pressures on students are too extremely toxic and vicious in nature to be managed safely-cum-amicably by them.
According to the year 2021 report of Accidental Deaths and Suicides released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), around 8 percent of the total suicide cases in India from 1,64,033 deaths by suicide comprised of students.
864 people in India below 18 years of age committed suicide in 2021 due to the fear of ‘failure in examination’, which, in turn, happens to be 1 % of the total suicides in the country. This indicates that our education system is facing tectonic challenges and needs our immediate attention in order to stem the tide of student suicides.
Many people have squarely blamed the coaching institutes for the students’ suicides and some tend to blame the administration for not taking strict action against the coaching institutes.
While there may be some iota of truth in blaming these coaching institutes, however, it does not seem to be completely right to blame them altogether for the malaise.
Apparently, they are chiefly academic business shops which have been set-up with a profiteering motive and are aimed at preparing strategies for the enrolled students to succeed in the competitive examinations. Just simply blaming the Kota’s coaching institutes only for the students’ suicides and not exploring the matter in detailed length would be akin to doing great injustice with our holistic analysis of the whole picture.
It is a complex problem and comprehensive solutions are needed to address it which would include better mental health support, awareness campaigns, and a broader perspective on success beyond just exam scores.
It's crucial to recognize that the issue of student suicides in Kota is not isolated to this region alone and is indicative of broader challenges within India's education system and societal pressures.
Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach involving schools, parents, policymakers, and mental health professionals to create a more supportive and nurturing environment for students.
A lot of educationists, researchers, mental health experts and administrators have tried to dig beneath the surface of suicides by students in the coaching hub of Kota in Rajasthan and they have attributed the real reasons for such suicides to various factors like parental expectations, social and peer pressures, homesickness, strenuous study environments with hectic routines and failure to cope sufficiently with the pessimistic thought of not being able to clear the highly competitive examinations like Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) and National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET). Many so-called solutions to stop the ill-fated suicides of students in Kota, Rajasthan have not borne the expected fruits and have provided lukewarm results only.
These solutions included hiring psychologists/counsellors in coaching institutes, giving weekend off to students, providing recreational breaks, conducting yoga classes, setting the policy of refund of fees, organizing awareness drives with student helpdesks and helpline numbers, etc. Some proposals which have been suggested to stop student suicides even border on absurdity such as installing spring loaded fans which can detach if they encounter loads, or removing the ceiling fans in students’ hostel rooms and putting only wall-mounted fans.
All these steps have failed to address the issue of stress faced by students and suicide by them keeps on happening every now and then. So far, 24 students aspiring to become engineers and doctors have committed suicide at Kota’s coaching hub in 2023 alone.
According to Rajasthan police data, 15 students died by suicide in 2022, 18 in 2019, 20 in 2018, 7 in 2017, 17 in 2016, and 18 in 2015. No student suicide was reported in Kota in 2020 and 2021 as the coaching institutes were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The need of the hour is to focus on developing such a national educational policy which promotes happiness and well-being of students and not forces them punitively to cut down short their own lives.
Parents in India also need to be educated and encouraged to not indulge in putting unwarranted pressures on their children and give them the creative liberty to pursue their passions and become whatever they want to be in their life.
The nation does not need only IAS, IPS, doctors, engineers. India also needs talented artistes, painters, musicians, sportspersons, scientists etc. Let us recognize the uniqueness of every child. We must learn to give equal importance to all the professions and not limit our children’s potential by restricting their growth and aptitude.
The coaching institutions also need to prioritize the students’ welfare and keep the channels of communication open with students, their parents/wards and local administration. If they find anything suspicious in any student’s behavior such as aloofness, isolation, signs of stress, anxiety, panic or depression, they must bring it immediately to the knowledge of all the concerned stakeholders in order to avoid the fatal consequences of suicides.
The government and local administrators also need to get actively involved with the students and ensure that the coaching institutes are diligently following the prescribed rules, guidelines and protocols in this regard.
Students are the future assets; they are the hope of our nation. We cannot let them perish away in silence. We need to hold their hands today with love and affection and promise them a better treatment from our side. We need to instill the power of resilience in them and tell them that it is perfectly okay to fail in examinations but it is never okay to end one’s life. Let the young minds not be killed with societal trials and tribulations. We cannot risk pushing them to the dead end of suicides by burdening them under the load of our unjustified and unrealistic expectations.
Many parents are now skeptical of putting their children in the hostels of Kota and can be seen moving with them for the period of their coaching by renting out accommodations in the city. This is a good development as children need utmost care and affection in the face of cut-throat competition.
The teachers also need to be sympathetic to the aspirational teenagers and take care of them like their own children. We need to create humble educationists with an aim to refine the personality of students and not just coaching strategists whose sole focus is to garner wealth.
The educational policy needs to focus upon identifying the teachers with integrity who are dedicated to the noble profession of teaching. Society needs to stop the vulgar glorification of the toppers of competitive examinations like JEE and NEET by putting their life size hoardings and advertisements in newspapers, which makes the other students feel like nothing incase they are not successful in clearing the exams.
The stigma of failure needs to be tackled from a young age. The children need to be taught that it is not possible to always win in life and it is okay to fail and its okay to lose sometimes. The mental health of the students of the nation is something which is very important to be taken care of by all the stakeholders in question.
Life is a precious gift of the GOD. We need to cherish it whole-heartedly and make our children value the importance of life over anything in this world. Let’s show the much-needed empathy with our children and make them choose life over death. Dear students, suicide is definitely not the solution.
September 5, 2023
Disclaimer : The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the writer/author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Babushahi.com or Tirchhi Nazar Media. Babushahi.com or Tirchhi Nazar Media does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.