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Friday, June 3, 2011

22 - 31st Dec 2006 - Exam stress drives IIT student to suicide - TOI

TNN, Dec 31, 2006, 01.57am IST
MUMBAI: A year after a student killed himself at IIT's Powai campus, another suicide rocked the campus on Saturday when 21-year-old Srikant Mallapallu hanged himself in his hostel room, leaving behind a suicide note.

"I feel I could not make it because of the backlog of exams that I need to clear. But I want to thank all my professors who helped me immensely and I am sorry for causing all these things," read the suicide note.

According to a senior police official, the suicide took place between noon and 6 pm. Mallapallu was a final year B Tech student of electrical engineering who hailed from Hyderabad.

His body was discovered hanging from a ceiling fan in room number 712, hostel number 13, by another student who went to call him for dinner around 7.15 pm.

The tragedy comes just a day after the four-day student festival—Mood Indigo—concluded on the same campus. The IIT administration has informed the boy's parents in Hyderabad. The authorities refused to comment till they had met the boy's parents.

Mallapallu's classmates said he was lagging behind the others. "Srikant used to get low grades; on an average he had a five-pointer Cumulative Performance Index (CPI)," said a friend. IITs grade student on a scale of 4 to 11 points.

During the recent placement season, while his classmates were flooded with lucrative job offers, Mallapallu did not have any offers, and this may have left him depressed.

Also, when the results of the recently held semester exam were announced, Mallapallu found that he had failed in one more subject because of which he would not be able to graduate in 2007 with his batchmates.

In November last year, another final year student, Vijay Nukala, had committed suicide in the campus. Academic pressure was said to be the cause. In 2003, a girl student had also ended her life in the hostel.

Mental health professionals are critical of IIT-Bombay for failing to identify Mallapalu as a possible suicide victim despite having two counsellors and two psychiatrists on board.

The faculty mentors, introduced after the last suicide, too failed to pick up any distress signals. "There were absolutely no sessions to train the faculty to work as emotional aid workers," said a psychiatrist on condition of anonymity.

"After the last suicide there was some soul searching but that ended with only online discussions. There was nothing face-to-face and nothing substantial was done to prevent suicides," said an insider. "Unfortunately, the attitude of the authorities is to brush everything under the carpet,"' he added.

Mental health professionals said it was not surprising that the suicide happened just after the student festival. "There is no effort to ensure that everyone is included."