It’s alarming! Students’ suicide rising in C’garh

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Sep 2017 10:29:45


Staff Reporter,


Asha Ranjan, a 21-year-old engineering student, committed suicide by jumping in front of the train. She was in depression about failure in exams and repeatedly talked about ending her life on social media. There were also some comments that she was battling drug addiction. This is not the first case, in every 12 hours; one student commits suicide in different parts of the Chhattisgarh, according to 2016 data (the latest available) from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

In 2016, the number of student suicides stood at 702. In the five years leading to 2016, 2,220 students killed themselves. The number of attempted suicides, many unreported, is likely to be much higher. India has one of the world’s highest suicide rates for youth aged 15 to 29, according to a 2012 Lancet report, which illustrated the need for urgent interventions for this demographic.

In 2016, with 701 suicide cases of students, Chhattisgarh stood at third position amongst all states as well as union territories of the nation. With 1230 cases Maharashtra stood at first position and Tamil Nadu in second position with 955 cases. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh are among India’s most advanced states, and their high rate of suicides could reflect the pressures of economic growth.

Conversations with counsellors revealed that young people find it difficult to cope with failure in examinations and careers and neither families nor other social institutions offer adequate support or solace. Professional help is difficult to find because Chhattisgarh endures 93% shortage of mental-health professionals. The situation is exacerbated by low public spending on mental health — Chhattisgarh spends less than Jharkhand on mental-health services.

Family background, it would appear, has an important role in determining how young people cope with despair? Students from “happy” families suffer from less depression, according to study conducted among Indian university students. Dr M D Sikdar, renowned psychiatrist and member of the NGO which works with children and adolescents, concurs with this reasoning. The popular perception is that failing exams or inability to cope with academics is the primary reason for student suicides. ‘This is rooted in a sense of helplessness or extreme frustration’ he said Student suicides are becoming increasingly common in Bhilainagar as well as Raipur.

Its many commercial coaching centres, that guarantee success in professional entrance exams, pressure students into striving for unrealistic goals. Unable to cope with failure and anxious about letting their family down, a growing number of students opt to end their lives. ‘These deaths result from poor relationships with parents, excessive expectations, the feeling of being unwanted, poor understanding of their peer/romantic relationships. These result in an impulsive decision or a long thought-out deliberate suicide,’ stated Dr. Pramod Gupta, renowned psychiatrist of the state and president of Chhattisgarh Psychiatry Association.

Figures also found that students who studied social science and humanities, performed poorly in academics, or came from disadvantaged families reported higher rates of depression. Financial issues dominate the reasons for suicide: About 70% of suicide victims in 2016 had an income of less than 100,000 rupees per annum. Even though this figure isn’t disaggregated for students, it corroborated the study’s findings on the links between suicide and financial condition.

‘Additionally, since parents play a major role, there should be parenting classes when people get their marriages registered’ asserted Dr. S Verma, psychiatrist. Universities in the state still lack counselling centres, where trained counsellors and psychologists can assist students at the onset of emotional and mental problems so they do not spiral into full-fledged clinical depression and lead to suicide. At present, Chhattisgarh faces 90% shortage of mental-health professionals. There are only 32 psychiatrists, 75 clinical psychologists, 78 psychiatric social workers and 90 psychiatric nurses across entire State.