Over 26,000 Indian Students Committed Suicide in 3 Years
The Indian government has started counselling centers at many educational institutes, including IITs, to address mental health issues among students.
Almost 26,500 students in India committed suicide between 2014 and 2016, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs. In the span of three years, 8,068 (2014), 8,934 (2015) and 9,474 (2016) students killed themselves. One of the main reasons, which accounts for almost one-fourth of the suicides each year, is failure in exams.
As many as 2,403, 2,646 and 2,413 suicides were committed due to failure in examination in the country during 2014-2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in Lok Sabha last week.
In 2016, the suicide by 57 students in Kota — known as a coaching town for engineering and other subjects — had raised alarm bells. By 2017, the number of suicide cases dropped by 70 per cent due to intervention by the Rajasthan government. The Ministry of Home Affairs data indicates that although there is no one reason for suicides committed by students, failure in examination has been a big contributor.
To comfort students, the government has started counselling centers at many Indian Institute of Technology premises in India. However, such measures have been taken only at premier institutes of the country, and other universities in smaller cities and towns are still much behind in addressing the mental health problem.
The fear of failure among students and the resulting anxiety has also forced various state governments to issue public service announcements annually before exam season. They also bring celebrities on board to show to the youth that good scores in exams is not the only way to success.
Parental pressure and expectations as well as largely unaddressed mental health issues are also contributing towards the growing number of student suicides.
A dangerous trend that caught on in 2017 was the Blue Whale Challenge, which led to widespread panic after several cases were suspected to have occurred because of the online game, in which students commit suicide as the last task in a series of challenges.
“Health being a State subject under List- II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, States are empowered to implement their own programs,” Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, said. “However, the Government of India attaches highest importance in the matter and has approved implementation of the District Mental Health Program in some of the districts of the country with added components of suicide prevention services, workplace stress management, life skills training and counseling in schools and college.”
According to the data, Maharashtra has the highest suicide rate, followed by West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.
“It [the study] says that 10% of Indians have one or more mental health problem in a nation of 1.3 billion people… If you put it in context, the number of Indians suffering from mental health problem is larger than the population of Japan,” President Ram Nath Kovind had said earlier this year while speaking at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru.
A person attempts to die every three seconds in India, and it is one of the top three causes of death among people in the age group of 15-35 years, according to Aasra, a non-profit organization that works on suicide prevention.