Published: 01st April 2017
This safe-fan created by a Bengaluru start-up will stop students in hostels from trying to hang themselves
The fans have been ordered to be fitted at all hostels in Kota, Rajasthan and may soon be ordered by some of the IITs, as well as other colleges across the country, in light of high suicide rates
In India, it's almost become a norm for student suicides to increase between March to June. Why? Because it's exam time. But in places like Kota in Rajasthan, the capital of competitive coaching in India suicides happen around the clock. In just the last five years, 57 students have committed suicide in Kota. So now, it's also known as the 'suicide city'.
Despite awareness measures, counselling being available for students in Kota and other places, the word either never gets to the student or students simply do not seek help. But Kota has come up with a new solution that could reduce the number of suicides drastically — suicide-proof ceiling fans.
Will this help? Yes. Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder of SNEHA. suicide prevention helpline said that stopping access to methods of committing suicide is a step towards preventing suicides and Kota seems to have done just that.
How does it work?
These "suicide-proof" fans are fitted with a spring mechanism that lets the fan drop when a person tries to hang from it and it also sets off a siren at the same time. Even though these fans are used in certain high-security areas abroad such as prisons, it's probably the first time in India that a similar technique is being put to use.
Ground alert: These fans are fitted with a device that ensures they crash when anything above 20 kg is hung from them | Representative image - Courtesy: ceilingfans.candra.info
Manufactured by Safehalo, a Bengaluru-based company that comes up with innovative products to prevent incidents such as suicides and even child abuse from happening, this fan will now be attached in all student accommodation across Kota. Vijay Kumar, the founder of the company said that he came up with the idea about three years ago and when it was completed, he knew that Kota would be the place to take the product to.
Looks like any other fan
The product is not an entirely new fan, it is simply a part that has to be attached to a regular fan Vijay Kumar said, " This 'safe-fan' just looks like any other fan, so no one will even notice any difference. The regular fan is attached to the roof with a clamp and it is covered by a cup, here we are only providing the clamp. This clamp has a spring mechanism, if someone above 20 kgs tries to hang from the fan, the spring simply comes down and the fan drops preventing the student from hanging. At the same time a siren attached inside the cup also goes off, alerting the authorities," he explained.
Kumar said that they had made sure to attach a siren as well because they didn't want the student to try out any other method of suicide, because this didn't work, "If the siren goes off, that authorities will ensure that the person gets help otherwise we just let go of the case. "
He also added that there were other features attached such as an alerting system that would send a signal to the front desk or directly to the person in charge and also send information to the nearest CCTV camera so the authorities would know where exactly the suicide attempt had taken place.
The fan is being provided to Kota for Rs 600 but Kumar says the price depends on the number of features in the product and also told Edex Live that he had already approached IIT-Kanpur with the product as well and is hoping to get it installed in all IIT's across the country as well.
Even though these new techniques would have a considerable effect on suicide rates, suicide prevention experts still say that it is more important to stop the student from even having such thoughts by providing a safe environment and ensure that the student has easy access to psychological help during stressful or depressing phases.