Published: 20th March 2023
Suicidal thoughts in students is often spurred on by parents' expectations, stress of failing in exams
I never wanted to do engineering. Before I got a chance to explore what I really liked to do, my parents decided it for me, shared a student
A few months ago, the 19-year-old first-year law student of Osmania University, had thought of dying by suicide. The thought kept occurring to him repeatedly. He had given up admission to a prestigious university because of his inability to pay the prohibitively high fee, as stated in a report by The New Indian Express.
As he studies law at the university, he is always under the burden of doing well academically without becoming a burden on his family back home. His parents work as agricultural labourers and find making living with meagre earnings very tough.
"I had no one to talk to when I was going through mental trauma. I still feel the same. Faculty appointed on contract basis here do not provide us proper guidance and the much needed emotional support" he said. Meeting monthly expenses of Rs 600 - Rs 800 sent by his parents seems a challenging task for him.
Most students come under peer pressure while in college. They have no means to convey their feelings. Students take the extreme step when they find no one with whom they could talk and share their travails. The incidence of suicides has been on the rise since the beginning of this year. Already two intermediate students and one job aspirant have died by suicide in the last two days.
What causes these suicidal thoughts?
When TNIE spoke to a cross-section of intermediate and degree students across Telangana, it came to know that all of them did not have suicidal tendencies. They, however, complained that what caused the most stress on them was their inability to rise to their parents' expectations. "I never wanted to do engineering. Before I got a chance to explore what I really liked to do, my parents decided it for me," said a third-year BTech student from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) Hyderabad.
Currently, he is stressed about getting a good software job to support his farmer-parents living in Bhadradri-Kothagudem district. "I never dared tell my parents that I wanted to pursue culinary arts. Studying for long hours for what I have no interest in, is killing me," said a second-year intermediate student studying at Sri Narayana college in Hyderabad. Her father who runs a business and her mother who is a homemaker want their daughter to clear JEE Main exam.
Her friends studying in the same class echoed a similar concern. One of them is also trying to overcome the feeling of humiliation and loneliness after being shifted to a lower class in view of her poor performance in her studies. A few students also said that they had to get good marks as their parents went beyond their means to spend heavily on their education.
"There is no bonding between teachers and students here. We prefer YouTube courses to complete our syllabus. How can we expect any guidance from the teachers?" asked Pranay Gangadhara, a third-year student of IIIT Basara. He and his friend Vinay Sriram are worried over whether they would get jobs after education.
Exam failure also a cause of concern
It was also noticed that the fear of failure in the exam is also making students anxious. They are unable to concentrate on anything and some feel gloomy for days and weeks. Without any support from family, the students seek relief in the company of their friends and cousins of their own age. A few of them spend time alone to get out of a stressful situation and others go out with their friends to relax. Some others take help of social media to overcome despondency and yet a large number of them try to avoid seeing a counsellor. Either they are not in contact with anyone or they fear being labelled after going to a counsellor. Students are unaware of the free mental health helplines as well.
A consultant psychologist's take
"The students are being compared with those who have already settled and flown abroad. The consumer market is also forcing them to desire costly bikes and good clothes," said Dr C Veerender, a consultant psychologist in the You and Me clinic. He also runs a campaign against students' suicides. Compared to the early 1990s the pressure on students to succeed in the materialistic world has increased, Dr Veerender added. Social media platforms add fuel to it, he said, pointing out that relationship issues are also a point of concern among students.
"Considering that post-pandemic stress levels among students have increased drastically, every educational institution should have counsellors who the students could reach when in need. Will the counsellors be able to solve their situation or not is a different matter, but at least there needs to be someone who could listen to them," Dr Veerender said.