Posted On Monday, January 01, 2007 at 02:38:22 AM
IIT has 30 mentors, picked from among students themselves, spread across various faculties between the second and fourth year. They identify students who are emotionally unstable on the basis of their behaviour as well as academic performance. Once the students are identified, they are tackled by the mentors depending on their seniority. If the mentors are unable to handle them, faculty members and even parents are brought into the picture. Chronic cases are referred to professional counsellors.
The system, started a few years ago, was intensified last year after Vijay Nukala, a final-year student, committed suicide on the campus apparently as a result of academic pressure.
However, the system did not deliver in Srikanth's case, a fellow student who did not wish to be named said. "Srikanth's points on the cumulative performance index were very low. He also had a backlog since his second semester and had not performed too well in his CAT exams. These were adequate indications for the mentor group or any other support group to identify him as troubled and help him out," the student said.
Ashok Misra, director, IIT Bombay, acknowledged it was a "worrying sign" that the mentor system could not identify Srikanth as someone who needed help. Misra said, "It is cause for concern that the mentors could not identify the student. We will now look at improving the mentoring system."
Meanwhile, people who knew Srikanth well can't get over the shock of his suicide. He loved animated films, was very popular because of his movie collection that he posted on his server at IIT and loved his computer and gadgets. Srikanth, better known as Srilu, hailed from Hyderabad.
Dr Bharat Shah, president of Bombay Psychiatrist Association said Srikanth's seems a case of premeditated suicide. "From what we know till now, he must have made up his mind to commit suicide. He did not want anyone to know about his intentions. It is not uncommon for such people to mingle with friends and have fun. This explains why he even participated in the college festivities," said Dr Shah. He added that many with suicidal tendencies are able to hide their grief and smile through life.