Telangana: Series of student suicides turns focus on mental health, parent-children rapport

The desire to score the highest is driven by peer, family and societal pressures and raises expectations.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only. Express illustrations

HYDERABAD : In less than 24 hours of the results of Intermediate public examination being announced, at least six students died by suicide, leaving their families mourning.

The series of suicides have led to questions regarding the mental well-being and the pressure that students go through during and after examinations.

The desire to score the highest is driven by peer, family and societal pressures and raises expectations. Failure to meet these expectations is one of the major causes of youngsters taking the extreme step of ending their life.

Senior child psychologist Dr Jawaharlal Nehru P told TNIE: “Any suicide involves two stages — incident and mental stage. It is not an instantaneous step, but the culmination of the a combination of various factors that youngsters experience, which leads to a suicidal ideation and the action. One must understand that children in the 14-16 age group undergo many physiological changes while they are still in school, where the environment is different than that in the college. As a student transitions to college life, they lose old friends, their actions are limited to studies and the college environment is also different from that of the school. All these factors affect a student who is very likely to experience a trauma, which they do not share with anyone and gradually isolate themselves. As they are not exposed to CASH — caring and sharing in college life — they become more reserved and prone to psychological distress”.

Dr Nehru added that parents and teachers must stop inducing guilt in students if they do not perform well in exams, and must explain the necessity of learning rather than scoring marks.

“The primary concern of most of the students who fail in an exam is how they will explain it to their parents. This shows that a lack of emotional standard from the parents pushes the children towards depression and isolation. An open communication with their children and regular interaction with teachers for supporting their children in studies can bring a tangible change in the f\grim scenario,” the psychologist said.

Tele-Manas, a helpline, gets a distress calls from students and parents experiencing anxiety related to the results.

One of the counsellors at Tele-Manas said, “Student who call are under extreme pressure and stress and they have no safe place to express themselves. Our counselling calls give them the scope to open up, where we make them feel safe and encourage them towards being more positive and hopeful as one result is not worth the life of an individual. More importantly, family members and close ones also need to be more supportive of those who perform poorly in any examination”.

K. Rebecca Maria from 1-Life, a suicide prevention organisation, said that they had started receiving calls from students for help and a few of them were extremely stressed due to the bad results. She also explained that expectations from parents were one of the prime reasons for youngsters deciding to take steps for self-harm.

“Any individual takes the step of suicide when they see no hope. As the students experience negativity, which pushes them into depression and loneliness and eventually leads to suicide, creating a positive surrounding around them becomes crucial in such sensitive times. At the same time, we cannot overlook the cut-throat competition, hefty expenses and investment in education which burdens the parents, as well as the unrealistic success scenario that the society tries to impose on students and their parents.

Intermediate student ends life in Mahabubabad

A day after the Intermediate results were announced, a 19-year-old first year student died by suicide in her native village on Wednesday night. The victim was identified as N Yashaswini, a resident of Reddial village in Mahabubabad mandal of the district. According to V Deepika, the Mahabubabad Rural Sub-Inspector (SI), Yashaswini, studying in a private junior college in Mahabubabad mandal headquarters, failed to clear her exam and was depressed. She took the extreme step late on Wednesday by jumping into the agricultural well near her residence. Local saw the Yashaswini’s body floating on the water on Thursday morning and informed the police. The body was sent for a postmortem examination to the Mahabubabad government area hospital and a case registered under Section 174 CrPC (suspicious death).

24/7 suicide prevention helplines

  • Tele-Manas - 14416

  • 1Life - 9152987821

  • AASRA - 9820466726

  • Vandrevala Foundation - 9999666555

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