What is happening to students? Suicides back in focus after 3 end life on a single day in Hyderabad

NCRB data revealed that as many as 3,507 student suicide cases were registered in Telangana between 2014 and 2021 — an average of 438 cases per year.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Oct 29, 2022 | 2:14 PMUpdatedOct 29, 2022 | 2:14 PM

What is happening to students? Suicides back in focus after 3 end life on a single day in Hyderabad

Suicide by students in Telangana is once again in the spotlight after a 15-year-old girl student of a government school died after falling from the school building at Saroornagar in Hyderabad on Thursday, 27 October.

“It seemed like the girl had jumped from the second-floor corridor through a gap in the safety grill. After breakfast around 8:30 am, one of her schoolmates saw her going upstairs from the second floor,” LB Nagar Assistant Commissioner of Police Sridhar Reddy told South First.

The girl was not the only student to die by suicide on Thursday. Hyderabad reported two more suicides by students on the same day.

Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, under which attempts to suicide were booked, has been decriminalized. It has been amended to “any person who attempts to commit suicide should be presumed, unless proven otherwise, to be suffering from severe stress and should not be tried and punished”.

In August this year, a 22-year-old MTech student at the Hyderabad campus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) died by suicide. The suicide note held the institute responsible for putting him under stress.

Meanwhile, as many as 3,507 cases of students committing suicide were registered in Telangana between 2014 and 2021, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Parents accuse school of negligence

The family of the deceased girl alleged in their complaint that she had died due to school’s negligence.

As the girl was found missing after breakfast, the school informed the family around 10 am.

The parents reached the school an hour later. The girl, however, could not be traced. She was later found lying injured at 12:30 pm.

The police have registered a case under the CrPC 174 (to enquire and report on suicide) and IPC Section 304 A (causing death by negligence).

“Our investigation is on and no one has been so far arrested,” LB Nagar DCP Sunpreet Singh told South First.

Two more students end life in a day

In another incident, a 19-year-old BSc second-year student of a degree college in Begumpet committed suicide after her mother reportedly rebuked her for ignoring her studies and scoring low marks.

Later, the mother, on returning home, found her daughter hanging from a ceiling fan in the bedroom. She was a resident of SR Nagar.

A third-year engineering student, Sravani, 20, also died by suicide at her hostel in Petbasheerabad on Thursday. She was reportedly worried over her inability to meet the academic expectations of her relatives.

The police registered cases under CrPC 174, and are investigating.

Spike in students committing suicide

Telangana saw a 31 percent increase in student suicides between 2020 and 2021, NCRB data revealed.

On average, 438 students reportedly committed suicide every year in the state.

The five southern states reported 2,900 student suicide cases on average every year between 2014 and 2021, with Tamil Nadu accounting for the most, with 7,642 cases.

Kota Nileema, director of the Delhi-based Institute of Perception Studies (IPS), which researched the student suicides in Telangana over the past few months, held three underlying factors for students taking the extreme step.

"First, infrastructure in educational institutions is not up to the mark. From buildings to food, all facilities are badly maintained," she had told South First in an earlier interview.

Second, according to Nileema — who also heads the Hyderabad-based Hakku Initiative, which works on solutions with citizens and government — the quality of education in most institutions is below expectations.

"The students want innovative education, which they feel they are not getting. The number of teaching staff is less. All these factors put students — who are looking for employment — under stress," she opined.

And three, the former journalist noted, was the delay in fee reimbursed to the economically weaker and other-backward-class students. This, too, puts them and their families in distress.

What psychologists say

Dr Ashwini NV, founder-director of Bengaluru-based Muktha Foundation, which works on preventing abuse and promoting mental health, told South First in an earlier interview that a student's psychology should be understood.

Describing students as adolescents and "emerging young adults", he said these stages were characterised by marked physical, social, and academic transitions and pose special challenges.

She warned against families and peers pushing the idea that a person's self-worth is exclusively dependent on academic performance or securing a seat in a particular institution

Caregivers such as parents have a special duty to protect students, especially those exposed to failure. Instead, they are at times the ones who push students into further distress.

According to her, parents and relatives must "unconditionally love and support children".

Parents must communicate that the children are valued, irrespective of their academic achievements. This removes half the pressure, Ashwini told South First.

Suicide prevention hotlines

Here are the major suicide prevention hotlines from across South India:

Tamil Nadu
State health department’s suicide helpline: 104
Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre: 044-24640050

Andhra Pradesh
Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930
Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Maithri: 0484 2540530
Chatham: 0484 2361161
(Both are 24-hour helpline numbers)

State government’s suicide prevention (tollfree): 104
Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200
SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682