Suicide by a student is a poignant gap left in society, a life of unlimited potential snuffed out at a tender age, a serious shortcoming of the country’s educational system. Families are devastated, classmates and teachers distressed, the institute left to contemplate a tarnished reputation. The extent of the problem can be gauged from government figures itself. Early this year, Home Ministry data sent to all States and Union Territories revealed that the problem has been getting worse — with one student committing suicide every 55 minutes on average. In a three year span from 2014 to 2016, the country lost 26,476 students taking their own life; Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh are the five most affected among States. Pressures of study in a highly competitive scenario, sexuality and identity issues, various kinds of discrimination felt at school or college, depression over breakups and family problems, addiction to drugs or dangerous online games are some causes that can drive students to take the extreme step. Experts are worried about the growing intensity of ‘psycho-social’ problems that students nowadays experience — when they are also missing out on personal relations and avenues to work off their stress. The sad picture is complete when we think about how lonely such youngsters can get to be, that no one hears their cry in the modern wilderness we inhabit. Mental health care and counseling is hardly on the radar of most educational institutions, so it makes news whenever initiatives are taken to promote healthy interaction and wellness among students. It helps when institutions, guardians and the community at large brainstorm over this problem and seek ways to mitigate it. An initiative like ‘Hello Maa’, a helpline for students in Assam to be launched on August 4, is therefore welcome. A brainchild of legislator Suman Haripriya, this helpline will be reportedly manned by counselors drawn from psychiatry, psychology, sociology and related fields, with Art of Living practitioners also pitching in. The community needs more such public spirited initiatives to provide a helping hand to youngsters at an age when they need it most.
Food for Thought: Suicidal Tendencies Among Children