Trigger warning: This article contains details and visuals pertaining to student suicides. Viewer discretion advised.
It is only in the past 2-3 years that people in our country have started to talk about the importance of mental health and accessible mental health services. Before this period, the topic of mental health was rarely taken seriously in our country. There was immense stigma attached to visiting a therapist and people who would do so would be considered ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’.
Especially when it comes to the mental health of students, who feel trampled under the unimaginable weight of academic pressure in our country, our society seldom acknowledges the kind of difficulties they may go through. Teachers and guardians ignore the signs of poor mental health among students, try to discipline them the hard way and pressurize them thinking it will push them to work hard, but end up ultimately breaking their self-confidence and willingness to study.
According to a May 2023 report by WION, the National Crime Records Bureau released a report wherein it was found that nearly 35 students in India commit suicide every day. Over 13,000 students died in 2021 in the country. If we are to talk specifically about Kota, where every year thousands of students arrive to prepare for competitive examinations, a recent report by Hindustan Times claimed that 3 suicide incidents occurred in Kota every month for the first 8 months of 2023.
In order to tackle this issue of student suicides in Kota, spring-loaded fans were installed in all hostels and paying guest accommodations. The authorities believe that this will “decrease suicide cases among students”.
A very graphic video was shared by ANI where a person can be seen replicating a suicide attempt using one of such fans. Have a look:
— ANI MP/CG/Rajasthan (@ANI_MP_CG_RJ) August 18, 2023
People online slammed this “preventive” method because if we were to talk about it practically, there are multiple other ways to commit suicide. Changing fans is not a solution. This step only trivializes a much graver problem – deteriorating mental health among students in India. What Kota needs is to establish a system wherein students will be given free access to quality mental health services. In addition to that, the numbing atmosphere of academic pressure that is created among students in such coaching institutes must be let go of.
Here’s how some people online reacted to this bizarre suicide prevention method:
Yaar had hai. Root cause Extensive pressure hai. Pankha nahi hai.
Kuch bhi chal rha hai.
— APPURV GUPTA (@appurv_gupta) August 18, 2023
Ban vehicles/trains in Kota as students might try to get under them. Ban high rising buildings as students might jump from them. Ban rivers, ponds, knives, blades, sharps, etc. Don’t address the root cause, address the effect.
— THE SKIN DOCTOR (@theskindoctor13) August 18, 2023
Prime example of how India is a "treat the symptom not the cause" society. I mean a lad who's trying to get into IIT ought to be smart enough to think of a different way to depart for the Elysian Fields. https://t.co/AgoQdDbZzG
— Nonsensical Nemo (@NonsensicalNemo) August 18, 2023
Rest of the world: Let's take mental health and academic stress more seriously.
India: Let's attach spring-loaded fans in hostels without “addressing the root cause”.
This is a Jugaad-loving nation. https://t.co/thQe2B6qAc
— Advaid അദ്വൈത് (@Advaidism) August 18, 2023
They will do everything to stop young kids from killing themselves *but* dismantle the toxic coaching ecosystem. https://t.co/yz8pcY5wJz
— Angshuman Choudhury (@angshuman_ch) August 18, 2023
You enter as a boy at age 16 or younger and if you manage to come out of it alive and victorious at 18, they distribute sweets and call you a man. This is what hell looks like. https://t.co/2l4qXrSynR
— Arjun* (@mxtaverse) August 18, 2023
Next some troubled kid will jump off fourth floor. Then what? Demolish anything above a floor? Ban knives? Work on core issues they face. https://t.co/SVltKFrm9D
— Satbir Singh (@thesatbir) August 18, 2023
This would be funny if the education system wasn't too cruel on the students.
These coaching institutes for entrance exams in the country are like consumption of junk food. They look attractive at first, but when junk food becomes your staple diet, it's highly problematic. https://t.co/SQ0sLz545G
— Gurkirat Singh Gill (@gurkiratsgill) August 18, 2023
Who is gonna tell them that’s not how you prevent suicides? There is a thing called “addressing the main issue”. Focus on why students have to take an extreme step and solve that rather than this. Sigh!
Mental illnesses are not like Lord Voldemort. We can totally talk about it. https://t.co/A1lwsKfVjF
— Harshita Sharma (@Harshita511) August 18, 2023
Idk if it’s funny or absurd. But the administration is finding problems with the fans, not the way the education system is going on. https://t.co/kHy0AE3mkb
— Diksha Verma (@dikshaaverma) August 18, 2023
Trigger Warning: Suicide
Educational institutions dealing with suicide be like: “Lets attach a spring to the fan but not talk about mental health or harassment.”
Also ANI like always, no trigger warning nothing before putting this video. What a great world this! https://t.co/MSGSZCaID8
— Shriya Roy (@Roy_Shriya) August 18, 2023
Good job putting band aid on a tumour https://t.co/ZUCazdDxhV
— Veena (@veenavenugopal) August 18, 2023
Bro literally gave a demo. 💀
The problem is not the fan, but academic stress, family expectations, financial problems, discrimination, depression, anxiety and social isolation. Provide mental health care and support. Raise awareness, train teachers to identify at-risk students. https://t.co/0Z6Z5o9VRd
— Abhishek (@AbhishekSay) August 18, 2023
Coaching institutes in Kota, as in every other part of India, need to create an atmosphere that is sensitive, compassionate, and holistic where students will be able to thrive emotionally.