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Opinion: The Ever-Increasing Suicides in Our Educational Factories: A Worrisome Reality That Needs Redressal!

www.thegraymatternews.com | September 7, 2023

Parents and educators need to be appropriately sensitized about identifying the warning signs. They need to let go of the incorrect belief that talking about suicide and self-harm may feed ideas in young minds.

On August 15, 2023, Valmiki Jangid, a student preparing for the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), in Kota, Rajasthan, died by suicide. This marked the fourth such case in the month of August and the 22nd in this year alone- the highest number in the past eight years (Gurjar, 2023). The incident once again put the spotlight on the tremendously stressful and unforgiving environment of the general sphere of academics in the country and its tragic impact on adolescents' mental health.

The Academic Rigor

Over 30 lakh students every year prepare for the highly competitive entrance exams, JEE and NEET, with their eyes set on the dreams of getting admitted into some of India's most prestigious engineering and medical colleges. They are forced into the academic rigor for about 16-18 hours a day to ace the highly competitive entrance exams, with little to no time nor the means for recreation or pursuing their hobbies (The Telegraph India, 2023). Frequent assessments, even on weekends, have made students highly vulnerable to stress. Factors such as decreased sleep, lack of physical activity, loneliness, and the fear of failure have only added to their deteriorating mental state. (The Telegraph India, 2023). Steps such as helplines, weekly off for students, counselling support, etc. have been taken, but these fail to tackle the deep rooted cause of the problem- The societal obsession of accepting nothing but perfection from adolescent minds.

Reasons Leading to Increase in Suicide Deaths

According to a study conducted by Sheetal Yadav and S.K. Shrivastava, the grade-driven academic approach combined with familial pressure, diminishing employment opportunities and fierce competition at every step of a student’s higher education journey are some of the popularly identified reasons that are closely linked to academic stress and suicide ideation (IJPHRD, 2020, 56-60). The study further revealed a significant relationship between academic pressure and suicidal ideation among adolescent students.

Students from marginalized sections of society find themselves pushed further on the sidelines owing to factors such as lack of an English-medium education, exorbitant tuition at private institutions, and the lack of adequate skills to secure jobs, amongst many others (Sarveswar & Thomas, 2022). Such alienation from mainstream academic opportunities frequently leaves them feeling lost and hopeless regarding their future career prospects.

A stressful family environment, including low perceived support, frequent conflicts, and a lack of cohesion, are also common risk factors for suicide ideation in adolescents. A relationship consisting of a low level of care and overprotection is consistently reported to have a high correlation with suicidal behavior in adolescents (Wasserman et al., 2021, 7). According to a study conducted on a sample of 15-19-year-old Asian adolescents, suicide ideation was highly associated with “authoritarian parenting style, low parental warmth, high maternal over-control, negative child-rearing practices, and a negative family climate” (Wasserman et al., 2021, 7).

The feeling of hopelessness is significantly associated with suicide ideation, attempts and even death (Wasserman et al., 2021, 8). This feeling often becomes a key linkage between depression and suicidal intent. Hopelessness further delves into the sense of being defeated, often making young adults not see an escape from their worries (Rana & Rathore, 2017, 536). Such a scenario is only heightened when students are confronted with the highly competitive atmosphere of academics in India.

As per the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) report on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, over 13,000 students tragically took their lives in 2021 alone, amounting to over 35 lives daily (National Crime Records Bureau, 2021). This grim number calls for urgent corrective measures. The administration, however, remains too focused on implementing superficial measures, which are barely helpful.

The Way Out

As a solution to tackle the increase in the number of students dying by suicide in Kota, the administration had ordered spring devices and sensors to be installed on the fans of hostel rooms as a way to prevent students from taking their own lives (The Telegraph India, 2023). Such measures coldly put the blame for such deaths on students themselves.

The individualized notion of suicides in India has allowed society to escape from accountability for far too long (Sarveswar & Thomas, 2022). This perception needs to change nw. According to Sipoy Sarveswar and Johns Thomas, itneeds to be viewed as a multidimensional public and mental health issue, the causes of which lie in various interactions amongst socio-economic, cultural, psychological, sociological and biological factors with individual and collective existence.


The key to making a positive change lies in an evolved mindset. The typical attitude of denying the presence of mental health disorders or brushing them under the carpet has to change. Parents must be aware that academic success alone will not guarantee their children a successful future. Children should not be pressured into academic excellence to fulfill their high standards (Rana & Rathore, 2017, 536). The environment at home should not be heavy with the burden of expectations and competition; instead, it should be encouraging and positive to support adolescents during stressful situations.

According to the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, anxiety related to the upcoming competitive exams was one of the most significant factors linked to suicides. Thus, students must be taught essential life skills such as anxiety management, coping techniques, self-care, etc. These need to form an integral part of the pre-existing educational curriculum (Kar et al., 2021). This will enable them to rationally handle failure and frustrations, perceiving them a natural part of the learning process. Thus, helping them build resilience and be prepared to face various life challenges.

The media can be used as an effective tool to call to the larger society’s attention. By aptly reporting cases of suicides, organizing informative discussions with mental health professionals regarding coping mechanisms and identifying worrisome symptoms along with sharing active helpline numbers, a significant percentage of the Indian population can be reached, in the hope of finally making mental health conversations normalized in households (Kar et al., 2021).

Early identification of adolescents' ‘at risk’ is crucial for timely intervention to reduce suicide risk. Their reluctance to identify the need to seek help makes it imperative to enhance risk identification skills amongst people who spend considerably significant periods of time with adolescents and would be well suited to deal with crisis situations (Torok et al., 2019). In this case, parents and educators are the best suited. However, there is a gap between their intervention suitability and the required ability. Parents and educators need to be appropriately sensitized about identifying the warning signs. They need to let go of the incorrect belief that talking about suicide and self-harm may feed ideas in young minds (Torok et al., 2019). Instead, they must be prepared to have these discussions with adolescents, even facilitating them. Sensitizing these stakeholders on how to respond and provide the right kind of support so that young people are willing to disclose self-harm and suicidal ideation would be a robust mitigation to the rising suicide deaths (Torok et al., 2019).

This article has been co-authored by Prisha Khanna, Undergraduate Student, FLAME University, and Dr. Garima Rajan, Faculty of Psychology, FLAME University.

(Source:- https://thegraymatternews.com/article/opinion-the-ever-increasing-suicides-in-our-educational-factories-a-worrisome-reality-that-needs-redressal )