In the wake of the suicide of brilliant student Fathima Latheef from IIT Madras, India witnessed hunger strikes and protests of students of the institute. They demanded to set up a panel of external experts to examine the mental well being of the students as this is the fifth suicide at IIT Madras in last one year. A final-year Ocean Engineering student from Kerala had committed suicide in September this year. Earlier in January 2019, a first-year M Tech student from Uttar Pradesh committed suicide in his room. Recently, a PhD scholar from Jharkhand also committed suicide. In December 2018, an assistant professor at IIT committed suicide in the staff quarters on the campus.
Climate Change is quite literally a hot topic in many countries yet India is looking about the stress warning signs among students and youth. Stress among students is a growing problem all over the world. But the Indian students are more stressed than ever. More students are committing suicide due to their academic pressure. Failure in the examination, low marks are the major reasons. Surveys found that 75,000 students committed suicide in India between 2007 & 2016. In the last five years, over 40,000 students have committed suicide in India. For 2018, this number was 8,492. It is regrettable that our country has been reported as one of the world’s highest suicide rates for youth aged 15 to 29. In April 2019, more than 20 students in Telangana committed suicide due to failed university admission exams. According to the survey of the National Crime Records Bureau, every hour in India almost one student commits suicide. On February 2019, a student of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) killed himself by jumping off his hostel building in Hyderabad. In early January, a 27-year-old medical student killed herself because she was unable to handle exam stress. December 2018 saw three suicides of students in four days in the city of Kota, in Rajasthan. In fact, It is globally accepted that Indian students are smart and intelligent. But the recent suicidal incidents happened in top universities of India proved that our children have only IQ(Intelligence quotient) and null EQ(Emotional Quotient or Intelligence). Why are these ingenious students committing suicides? What can be utmost to take such decisions? Who are the real culprits?.
Some of the causes are as follows
- Academic Stress: Indian education system is lined up with long study hours & memorization consequently getting less time for leisure activities and socialization which is a crucial part of the development of a child.
- Parents Pressure: Parents who are comparing their children with neighbours or friends children successful stories in career causing the child anxiety, depression and self-questioning.
- Low Self Esteem: In India students who don’t secure admission to top institutes are viewed as failures.
- Bullying from Faculty & Institute: When students are targeted by teachers in terms of gender, racial, economic, religious & caste factors and consistently assigning poor grades without any reason causes depression.
- Bullying from peers: Bullying and mobbing based on appearance, religion, behaviour and social status by physical, verbal, psychological and cyber ways adversely affect the mental health which leads the victim to be panic and depression.
- Low Emotional Intelligence: Research studies have shown that persons who committed suicides have low emotional intelligence.
- Unemployment: Rising unemployment threatens the mental health of the majority of students across India who face an unpromising future increase their stress and forcing them to end their lives.
What can we do
- Educational Institutions have counselling centres function with experts and first-year students should have a mental check-up periodically.
- A committee comprising of students and teachers to spot out early signs of mental concerns and address the same.
- Teachers have to use proper discipline procedures or effective classroom management techniques instead of using their power to condemn, manipulate or ridicule students.
- Provide effective and clear cut communication to the students as well as parents who get admission in top universities regarding the grading system following.
- Measure the value of a student based on individual qualities rather than academic success and grades.
- Accept that everyone learns differently and help the students to make their own plans on how to study for long hours effectively.
- Accept that exams are not the end of the world as the success of a person lies with the actions and not on the grades.
- Government needs to take actions to reframe our educational system as job seekers are not able to meet international standards because of a broken higher education system.
- Provide Emotional intelligence training to the students as well as teachers and should be a part of the academic curriculum as it covers five main areas such as self-awareness, emotional control, self-motivation, empathy and relationship skills which is a gateway to proper communication, managing emotions, better learning, friendships, academic success and employment.
Last but not least parents have to alert about the behaviour of a child . Usually the person who has suicidal tendency show some warning signs like intense sadness or hopelessness, not caring about activities that used to matter, sleep disturbance (either not sleeping or staying awake all night), social withdrawal from family, friends, sports & social activities, increased irritability, lack of energy & appetite etc. Remember, sometimes children or adolescents who are thinking about suicide won’t express their feelings. But parents can raise direct, non-judgmental questions and can encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings as effective communication plays an important role in problem-solving. Thus society, teachers and parents together can create a holistic well being of our children as there should be no more Fathimas in the Country.