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Kota reports 17th suicide by a student in 2023 as NEET aspirant hangs himself: Here’s what is leading to soaring student suicides in the city

Over the past few years, there have been a number of student suicides at Kota, with many placing the blame on the stress of studying and students' dread of failing.

On Monday, July 17, a 17-year-old NEET aspirant who had just arrived in Kota to study for the medical entrance exam committed suicide, bringing the total number of student suicides in Kota this year to 17.

The victim has been identified as Pushpendra Singh, a native of Jalore, a city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. He had only recently arrived in Kota and had signed up with a coaching facility to get prepped for the NEET exam. However, on July 17, he was discovered dead at his hostel. No suicide notes have yet been found by police. The police stated that they are looking into the situation.

Pushpendra and his cousin Lalu Singh, who was also studying for the NEET-UG, shared a hostel room in the Jawahar Nagar area. On Sunday at noon, Pushpendra sent his cousin to make arrangements for dinner. After around 20 minutes, Lalu came back and discovered the door locked from the inside. He noticed Pushpendra’s body hanging from the ceiling fan after peeking through the window. The boy was taken to a hospital by the police as soon as they arrived, but the doctors declared him already dead. 

The deceased’s relatives came to the town to pick up his remains and requested the authorities to take action to curb the soaring suicide rate. “Why is this happening in Kota? Our child was fine when he left home and when he last spoke to his parents. Why did he do this? He was in Class 11, he came here 7 days ago, there was no stress,” said the teenager’s uncle Indra Singh.

Uncle of deceased teenager (Daini Bhasker)

Earlier this month, the Kota police had registered a case of abetment against a coaching centre while investigating the suicide case of Bahadur Singh, 17, from Rampur district of Uttar Pradesh. The student’s brother had alleged that the coaching institute harassed the teenage boy and suspended him from the institute. “It led to depression and distress, pushing the boy to die by suicide,” the family alleged.

Meanwhile, the recent occurrence has once more drawn attention to Kota’s troubling record of student suicides. Every year, thousands of students from all over the nation come to this educational hub in Rajasthan to study for competitive tests to enter the best engineering and medical schools in the nation.

Over the past few years, there have been a number of student suicides at Kota, with many placing the blame on the stress of studying and students’ dread of failing. Last year, Kota had a total of 15 student suicides. But this year, the death toll has already reached 17.

In May this year around 5 suicide deaths of students from the city of Kota in Rajasthan were reported. Later the number continued to rise and to date around 17 students have committed suicide, possibly out of exam pressure. Some students happened to hang themselves while others are said to have jumped off the tall buildings.

What possibly is leading to an increase in students’ stress?

The Police, taking cognisance of the suicides, had earlier noted that no suicide notes were found in several of the cases. However, it is clear that these students could not cope with the examination pressure and thought of ending their lives.

“If we look at the pattern, the suicides are reported mostly in April, May, and June. Most of the fresh students arrive in the city around that time. Many of them fail to cope. The results of exams also come in the same period…which increases the number of suicides due to failures,” Assistant police superintendent (Kota) Chandrasheel Thakur was quoted as saying.

It is clearly possible to imagine the stress to which these students have succumbed. Many young lives have been affected over the years by the 14-hour days, tests held even on Sundays, relentless pressure to ace a challenging curriculum, shame and guilt associated with needing a break, fierce competition, and the fear of failing. Adding to this is the loneliness associated with being far from home and family.

The combination of a sizable population of young people with rising aspirations and an economy with demanding competitive potential has created a public health crisis that urgently calls for attention.

NCRB data reads 8% of suicide deaths comprised student victims

As per the Accidental Deaths and Suicides report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in the year 2021, around 8 percent of the total suicide cases from 1,64,033 deaths by suicide comprised of students. Of these, 14 percent were reported from Maharashtra (1,834 suicides out of 13,089), followed by 10 percent from Madhya Pradesh, 9.5 percent from Tamil Nadu and 6.5 percent from Karnataka.

Image source- ncrb.gov.in

National Education Policy’s complete implementation needed

Several proposals have been pushed to curb the rising suicide rates of students, some of which seem absurd. The Indian Institute of Science had proposed to install wall-mounted fans in hostel rooms last year and remove the ceiling fans. Others meanwhile have only partially addressed the issue, such as the recommendations made by the Board of Intermediate Education in Andhra Pradesh in 2017 to reduce student stress, which included offering yoga and physical education programmes and keeping a healthy student-teacher ratio.

It is tragically obvious that the bigger problem, that of the punitive educational system which is just not meant to support young intellects or equip them for today’s economic realities is still not being addressed. It seems that it will take time for the New Education Policy 2020’s vision which offers more academic flexibility to lessen the strain on students to be completely implemented.

Conclusion: What can help students?

At present to confront this growing issue, it is important that all-  students, parents, teachers, institutes, and policymakers run in coordination and learn from their past failures. It is also important for the stakeholders to establish a smooth and open communication system which might help and encourage the students to cope with the pressure. For this, the option of establishing and promoting student counselling centres or career counselling centres at the institutes can be considered.

Counselling sessions (Representative Image; Source- Adamas University)

Students also at their level need to understand the importance of mental peace and balance it with their student lifestyle. They need to give balanced or subjectively proportionate importance to education and their careers and need to adopt the culture of demanding guilt-free breaks whenever needed.

Further, now is also high time for the coaching centres and institutes to stop building pressure environments within the premises to keep the students prepped for their future. The constantly furthered pressure environment does nothing but increase the anxiety and depression level of the students leading to soaring deaths by suicide.

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Searched termsKota student suicides
Siddhi Somani
Siddhi Somani
Siddhi Somani is known for her satirical and factual hand in Economic, Social and Political writing. Having completed her post graduation in Journalism, she is pursuing her Masters in Politics. The author meanwhile is also exploring her hand in analytics and statistics. (Twitter- @sidis28)

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