What’s driving students to suicide?

For some students, life grinds to an abrupt halt. Instead of enjoying the blessings of a full life, they choose to end it. Reasons for this hard and often hasty decision are varied — academic pressure, faculty harassment to loss of interest.

By   |  Published: 25th Dec 2016  10:36 pmUpdated: 25th Dec 2016  10:48 pm
Illustration by Chaitanya Krishna

Hyderabad: For some students, life grinds to an abrupt halt. Instead of enjoying the blessings of a full life, they choose to end it. Reasons for this hard and often hasty decision are varied — academic pressure, faculty harassment to loss of interest.

This academic year, at least 15 students committed suicide in Telangana. Starting with PhD scholar Rohith Vemula who took the drastic step due to alleged caste-based discrimination in the University of Hyderabad (UoH) to the death of school student Megavath Nandini at Haytahnagar in November, the trend is a disturbing one.

Pointing at Rohith’s suicide, which sparked nationwide protest, Chukka Ramaiah – an eminent educationist and IIT guru – says there is a need to appoint supervisors who are from marginalised backgrounds. “They can guide students of the marginalised section, understand their situation better and help resolve their issues,” Ramaiah said.

With several cases of students ending their lives due to alleged harassment by faculty members, students point out that not just them, but even faculty members need to be counselled. “After PhD scholar Moses Abraham tried to attempt suicide, we asked the administration to hold counselling sessions for the faculty members,” says S Munna, PhD scholar at UoH.

Then there have been other factors too behind this trend. For instance, 19-year-old Y Sai Kumar Reddy who got admission in Osmania Medical College after he secured 147th rank in the EAMCET-III ended his life by jumping from the fifth floor of his house. Reason – he lost interest in studies. In another incident, Satwika — an MPC student at a corporate college — set herself ablaze because she was not comfortable living the hostel.

Psychologists say teachers need to be more sensitive while dealing with students of this generation. “Teachers have to go an extra mile and listen to students. Before students take up PhD, they should undergo an orientation in which they are told about the possible fluctuations and delays in completing their research. If need be, faculty members should also be counselled on dealing with students,” said Prof C Beena, a retired professor of the department of psychology at Osmania University and founder of Sahayam, a counselling centre.