Treat students gently to prevent suicides
College authorities should also be sensitive to the confusion and vulnerabilities of the tumultuous teenage years. Counselling students for errant behaviour is far better than driving fear into them.
Last week’s death by suicide on a Bengaluru college campus of a B Tech student who was caught with a mobile during an exam has led to public uproar. Aditya Prabhu’s suicide is not the first. But what set it apart was the heart-wrenching story of his mother waiting for him in the college lobby while he lay dead not far away. And poignant was her social media account of an insensitive university administration and harassment by the invigilator. A Class 7 girl similarly died by suicide last week, again due to bullying by school teachers. There are many cases of young children ending their lives due to academic pressure, harassment by teachers and sometimes parents, besides a sense of isolation, abuse, violence, family issues and mental disorders.
Though the jury is out on Aditya’s case, there is already considerable backlash against the college authorities for having taunted him into taking such an impulsive step. The inadvertent or wilful act of carrying a mobile to the exam centre cannot be reason enough to humiliate a youngster, especially in public. Institutions should be mindful that they are temples of learning meant for the holistic development of young minds. College authorities should also be sensitive to the confusion and vulnerabilities of the tumultuous teenage years. Counselling students for errant behaviour is far better than driving fear into them.
Dying by suicide was once considered a rare and extreme step but is increasingly becoming common. Shockingly, even pre-teens are ending their lives. Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (2021) states that over 13,000 students died by suicide in India, with Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu comprising most of these deaths. Academic pressure is one of the main reasons for deaths by suicide in top professional colleges like IITs and IIMs, and the coaching classes of Kota in Rajasthan have now become synonymous with suicide.
Of late, the reasons are becoming more unpredictable: social media and peer approval have become major factors, and even parents reprimanding students for poor grades or depriving them of mobile phones lead to suicide. The trend raises a pertinent question: Are our brave new generations too sensitive, and is social media turning them fragile? It is left to parents and society to reassure young minds that every problem has a solution, and it’s certainly not suicide.