Increasing cases of suicide among students preparing for competitive exams
By: Priyanka Saurabh
The National Crime Records Bureau’s Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report show that the number of student deaths by suicide increased by 4.5 percent, with Maharashtra reporting the highest number of deaths, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. According to the report, for the last five years, the cases of suicide among students are increasing continuously- unemployment rate being the major reasons behind most such cases. In Sikkim, about 27% of the state’s suicides were related to unemployment and were found to be most common among those aged 21 to 30. Juxtaposing academic excellence with the pressure of marks, studies and performance are important factors in student suicides in India from exam-oriented education.
What is it that makes students so prone to suicide? A simple interview with any student preparing for any competitive exam in India, be it JEE, NEET, or CLAT, will reveal that the major source of mental distress among students is the intolerable amount of pressure that almost every student faces. inserted by one. During those few years that we students set aside to prepare for a competitive exam, every teacher, every relative, and every aunt or uncle reiterates the importance of studying hard and getting admission to a good college. While spontaneous inquiries about what the student aspires to do after graduating from school, or where his or her interests lie, are greatly appreciated and even spurred on by us, especially some parents, The constant arguing with the coaches at the hands of many relatives and most of the coaching classes have a detrimental effect on our mental health.
This raises the question as to what can be done to reduce the pressure on the minds of the students. The answer to this question is not that complicated and is right in front of our eyes. The first step needs to be taken to curb the commercialization of entrance examinations. The highly complex nature of all these exams (not all) inevitably means that to crack them, parents have to fulfill their dream of getting their kids admitted to prestigious coaching centers, making it difficult for the student in more ways than one. The problem gets compounded as he is now under increased pressure to clear the exam to repay the money spent by the parents on coaching and he also has to face the additional pressures of the coaching institute.
Until and unless this sickening system is eradicated from the examination culture of the country, no visible change will be seen in terms of curbing the rate of suicide among students. The government should take cognizance of this issue if we think that “Today’s children are tomorrow’s future”. Forced career choices make many students succumb to the immense amount of pressure, especially from their families and teachers in terms of career options and studies. Lack of support from educational institutions ill-equipped to deal with mental health issues of children and adolescents and lack of centers and trained human resources for guidance and counselling. Preparatory courses and tertiary The exorbitant cost of education acts as a burden on the students and puts tremendous pressure on them.
The ‘Happiness Curriculum’ launched by the Delhi government focuses on holistic education by including meditation, value education, and mental exercises in the traditional education curriculum. It should be adopted by other states as well. It is important to reform the exam-centered education system in India. The curriculum should be designed in such a way that it emphasizes the importance of mental exercise and meditation. To reduce the risk factors of suicide, teachers should be trained as gatekeepers and innovative methods of examination should be adopted. Students need to be appreciated and it is important to change how Indian society looks at education. It should be a celebration of efforts and not marks.
Effective counselling centers should be set up in all the schools/colleges/coaching centers to address the anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues of the students. There is a need to learn from the failures of the past and take immediate steps involving all stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, institutions, and policymakers to address the growing menace.
The writer is Research Scholar in Political Science