K Srinivas Goud’s suicide on the Osmania University campus on Sunday has again brought forth the debate as to how students who are depressed or have personal problems can be identified for help. While a counselling centre has been set up on the campus, academicians point out that there is still a lack of proper mechanism to help such students.
They also point out that students from poor backgrounds like Srinivas, and also Mohd Mohiuddin, a research scholar from the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), who committed suicide more than 10 days ago, had a lot of pressure on them. “It is true that they were under pressure. Even I come from a village, but I used to take the help of my seniors or other professors, who would empathise with me,” said Mallesh Sankasala, principal of Arts College.
The death of Srinivas and others could have perhaps been averted had the ‘mentoring programme’ been implemented, he said. “As per the guidelines of the university, every professor should act as a guide for about eight to ten students, to help them with all matters, apart from academics,” Mallesh explained, adding that the programme only remained to be on paper.
“Suicides can be momentary or planned. I counsel three or four students every month against committing suicide,” said G Angela David, full-time counsellor, Sahayam Psychological Counselling Centre at OU. She too opined that identification remained to be the most crucial factor in deterring a person from committing suicide. “There can be a lot of symptoms in a person, but unless his or her friends notice it, the person can’t be helped,” she ascertained.
David also explained that many students on the OU campus come from poor economic background and need help. “I have students who are frightened to write their examinations because their English knowledge is poor. But at least whenever students notice anyone who is anxious enough, they bring them here,” she said.
Mallesh also pointed out another problem on the campus. “Students who come here to study get swayed by internal politicking or by groups. If they get more into academics, they will automatically be more in touch with teachers who can help them,” he asserted.
Vice-chancellor S Satyanarayana said that new committees had been formed to look into the suicide of Srinivas and to make sure that those who needed help were identified.
“Academics on the campus is relaxed. Students here have time on their hands, a place to stay. Perhaps it is also family pressure because of which they get tensed up.”
He added that courses that deal with psychology will be introduced in all the colleges on the campus from this year, especially for research scholars. “All the students will be taught to inform and to recognise such students,” he said.