Anatomy of a suicide


The results of any exam in India always incite a fair bit of trepidation in students. It should be a time when students can finally heave a sigh of relief that the pressure of acing an exam has lifted, but, in majority, it is a combination of fear and parental disappointment which is the dominant emotion on result day.

This year, close to 7.14 lakh candidates qualified for the medical entrance examination. However, not everyone took the news well. When the results of the NEET-2018 were declared, two students committed suicide after failing the entrance exam.

A former student of Sri Chaitanya College in Narayanguda, Jasleen Kaur Saluja took her life after securing a rank above one lakh in NEET by jumping off a ten-storeyed building. In a similar incident, a girl from Tamil Nadu consumed poison after she failed to qualify the entrance exam. The two incidents are eerily similar to the story of Anitha S who ended her life last year.

“Most of the time, the exam or the result is just the tipping point for them to commit suicide. They have already contemplated it. Suicide is often premeditated. The reasons are complex, a major one being the environment,” explains Dr Bharat Kumar Reddy, consultant psychiatrist, Apollo Hospitals.

Unfortunately, the environment is riddled with pressures of debt, peers, parents, society, and finding a job in a highly competitive market. Even if the students manage to weave their way through this quagmire, they again face the next set of goals set by their parents and the society in general. The issues are common, but it can become debilitating for those suffering from mental health issues.

The problem is further exacerbated with the existing rote method that is forced upon students by coaching centres for whom what matters the most is how many of their students achieve a high rank rather than letting them explore their intellectual levels.

“The competition is really high among students who choose medicine or engineering streams. Teachers in school can guide them to a certain extent, so extra coaching has become a must today. But, I believe parents are also to blame to a large extent. They should listen to their child, but only 2 or 3 per cent really do that,” feels Animita Sengupta who teaches entrepreneurship to students in eleventh standard in Sentia The Global School.

In her interactions with her students, she often finds many students saying that they were told to take MPC or BiPC by their parents despite them not being too keen on it. As teachers, they try to intervene but, unfortunately, parents don’t make any efforts to take the unconventional route.
“With education becoming more commercial, the amount of money being spent on college and tuition fees is drilled into a student’s mind which makes them think that it is a burden. So, before they can even start their learning, they are already surrounded by negativity,” adds Dr Bharat Kumar.

It also doesn’t help that students who don’t perform as well are segregated in another class, while the top performers are focused on by the institute. “That further demoralises them; as parents, they must let them know that it is not end of the world if they don’t get high marks. But, few do that actually,” says Animita.