India has one of the highest suicide rates in the world and recent studies suggest about 40 percent are adolescents!
Did you know that India has the world's highest suicide rate among 15 to 29 year olds, ahead of North Korea, according to a report by the World Health Organization in 2014? What’s even more alarming is the fact that suicide is the leading cause of death among young Indian women, overtaking deaths during childbirth! This is alarming!
If you look at the world census, suicides tend to occur among the most disadvantaged groups. In India, however, suicides are more prevalent happening among better educated young adults living in the most prosperous regions.
It then, came as not-so-much-of-a-shock when Khushboo Choudhary (17) from Bikaner, Rajasthan and student of the prestigious AIIMS-New Delhi and a 24th rank holder at the all India national entrance exam was found hanging in her hostel room on 29th August, 2015. She was alone in her room at the time of the incident. Her friends recall her to be a happy person; she had apparently visited Sarojini Nagar, one of Delhi’s most popular flea markets in the evening with her friends. All was fine till about 11:00 pm, when she received a phone call, after which she seemed disturbed. Students saw her texting as well. One of Khushboo’s friends, who went to her room later in the night, found her hanging.
Photo Source: Hindustan Times
AIIMS spokesperson Dr. Amit Gupta said that their inquiry ruled out foul play or ragging. “The family was informed about the incident. We cannot do anything till the family is here. The post-mortem can be conducted only on Monday after the family gives permission.”
So, what caused the suicide? While the post-mortem results are yet to come in, what academicians and educational institutes should look into are psychological analysis and counselling for every student. One can argue that course-curriculum and the pressure to excel academically needs to be reduced, but will taking care of solely this solve the problem?
People come from various backgrounds and some are strong psychologically, while others are just resilient to the environment. For the rest, suicide seems the easiest way out.
Causes for rising suicides amongst students:
Neglecting mental health:
With anything below a 90% amounting to nothing in the Indian education system, the young, women in particular, are feeling the pressure. A mental depression, or a mental illness often goes undiagnosed or untreated in India. Would you believe it, until about 2 years ago, India did not have national mental health policy! In January 2014, the Health Ministry launched a nationwide programme to provide community support for adolescents suffering from mental illness, which has not met with much success. In addition, spending on mental health accounts for 0.06 percent of the government’s health budget. This is nothing. It is the lowest in the world.
Trapped | Mismatch:
For many young students, the expectation-set is rather mismatched in college. A student could be performing well in school (with a localized population), but by the time they reach college, they realize, in the huge oasis of students from various parts of India, they are not quite ‘up-there’ as they had believed themselves to be. That is a shocker for most students, leading to further under-performance.
Lack of counselling:
Even if a college has a counselling-for-students process in place, more often than not, it is not functional. Or the students don’t avail that facility as it may not be a mandatory function to get promoted to the next level. Wherever there is such a process in place, the high student-to-teacher ratio means some people miss the safety net.
In a research published in the Journal of Physical Education and Sports Management, authors suggest that as students undergo physical and mental development during their college days, some students may find their mental development being incompatible with their physical development, or find that their mental development is incompatible with their social surroundings. Hence, they begin to suffer from problems of internal mismatch that come up due to inadequate adaptations.
Visiting a psychologist is often mistaken as visiting a psychiatrist in India. Or people are just ignorant about both of them. Mental counselling is often misconstrued as a neuro disorder and associated with being mentally-abled. This leads to students being very conscious and not wanting to being labelled as someone with a disturbed mind. Hence they avoid counselling at all costs. Not just this, students are found to have apprehensions about talking about their problems for fear of them leaking out as well!
So how do we curb this disturbing phenomenon?
- For starters, parents, please stop pushing your kids so hard to excel and rule the world!
- Every student has their own strengths and weaknesses. Appreciate the strengths and work with them on their weaknesses.
- Don’t push them to fulfil YOUR dreams. Let them find their own career path. Be supportive.
- Teachers, make education comprehensible.
- Let the student understand a concept rather than them following a rote practice.
- Focus on students, talk to them in a language that they can understand and communicate in.
- Encourage them, don’t shun them.
- Friends/ fellow-students, lend a helping hand to whoever needs it. It will only make YOUR concepts clear
- Don’t judge/ ridicule a person basis their marks
- If you find someone disturbed, don’t think twice about asking if anything is bothering them.
Who knows, you may save a life!