STATE OF DISTRESS
Academic Strain Shows: 11.5% Of All Student Suicides In Maharashtra Are From Mumbai
Anahita Mukherji | TNN
Mumbai: Given that the pressure to perform starts before kindergarten and dogs students all though their academic life, it may come as no surprise that 11.45% of all student suicides in Maharashtra during 2006 were from Mumbai, according to the recently released National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics. In fact, the figures for Mumbai match those for Pune, Nashik and Nagpur put together.
While exams may not be the sole reason for student suicides, they are definitely a major cause. For instance, Srikant Mallapallu, a 21-year-old who hung himself in his hostel room in IIT Powai in December 2006, left behind a suicide note where he said he could not make it because of the backlog of exams that he had to clear.
Another suicide victim that year was DEd student Rashmi Kawande, a quiet and withdrawn girl. Teachers, though unsure of the cause of suicide, pin it down to homesickness and hostel life.
According to teachers, the strain on girls who are academically bright but are being pressured to get married also results in suicide. For instance, teachers at a Mumbai polytechnic were stunned when a bright young girl ended her life a day before her exams. “Kya pata exam likhoongi ya nahin,’’ she told a teacher, a day before her paper when she was asked to copy down the time-table. “I got a call next morning informing me that she had killed herself,’’ said her teacher. It was later discovered that she was under pressure to get married.
Maharashtra also has the dubious distinction of being the state with the second highest incidence of student suicides across the country, beaten only by West Bengal.
With crumbling support systems and the lack of a full-fledged counselling centre in most schools—including some reputed institutions—there are very few mechanisms at hand to spot a child who may be in distress. “Most schools do a shoddy job of counselling. I have visited some wellknown CBSE schools who don’t feel the need to have a counselling setup,’’ says Chandni Parekh, a psychologist.