Alarming student-suicide rate? Is it time to introspect?

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A 14-year-old student committed suicide in Bengaluru as he was upset at not being elected class leader. A teenager in Kochi ended his life after he failed in exams. A class IX student jumped to her death in Mumbai last month. Reason of death isn’t clear.

Student suicides in India are no longer a rarity. As per government, in the three years since 2014, more than 26,000 students have killed themselves in India. In 2016 alone, 9,474 students committed suicide – that’s one suicide every 55 minutes, as per reports. The figures are shocking if not surprising. What’s driving these young children to suicide? Is it pressure of studies or the fear of failure? Is it isolation or peer pressure? Is it school or parents?

As per the government, failure to succeed at exams accounted for nearly a quarter of these suicides. Experts believe lack of family support, poor relationships cause higher stress among children. Parental pressure, abuse, bullying – reasons are enormous and vary from person-to-person, place-to-place and student-to-student.

Even though there are helplines, schools have counselors but guess, these steps aren’t enough. Given the rate at which suicides are taking place, it becomes utmost important for the society to introspect. Parents or schools or teachers alone cannot fight this menace. It is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders – parents, teachers, government, school, non-governmental organisations – to ensure that students do not take this extreme step. Parents need to hear their children out, teachers need to emphathise with students who aren’t good at studies, sports should be encouraged as it teaches one to accept failures in life. Meditation needs to be practiced. Government may start an awareness drive about suicide and mental wellness involving celebrities mainly cinema personalities as suggested by the Madras High Court. Everyone needs to chip it for it’s important to provide our youngsters an outlet where they can talk comfortably and vent out all their worries. If it is not happening by following the traditional way, then find an unusual way, just like IIT-Kharagpur has found. In order to encourage its students to unplug and talk to each other, it deliberately switches off power for an hour a day.

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