Kota is infamously known as the ‘suicide capital’ of Rajasthan because every year, a handful of students die by suicide after being unable to handle academic pressure from coaching institutes. Thousands of students arrive in Kota every year with dreams of qualifying JEE and NEET competitive exams with flying colours and securing a seat at prestigious institutes like an IIT or AIIMS.
This year alone, 25 students have died by suicide in Kota till now. Parents and grandparents are shifting to Kota to be with their kids and give them the emotional support they need. Authorities are installing spring-loaded fans inside the hostel rooms. It is a disaster.
What’s even more heartbreaking is that the walls of a Radha Krishna temple in the Talwandi area of Kota are filled with written messages and pleas from students, reported India Today. While some ask God for help to get them through the exams, others ask God to take care of their families.
“Please God ye ho nahi sakta, possible kar dijiye,” read one message.
“Mere mata pita ki raksha karna prabhu. Aur meri ek choti si manokamna ko pura karna. Aur meri wajah se koi dukh na rahe prabhu,” read another.
There’s hardly any space left in the walls.
What is a day at Kota like for a student?
According to the testimonies made by a few students, almost all of them get up in the morning at 7 AM. They study for 12-14 hours a day and sometimes don’t even get the time to eat properly. They have classes, extra classes, revisions, paper-solving and discussions. They also sit for weekly tests.
Teachers allegedly give them the idea that IITs and AIIMS are the only respectable institutes while NITs are inferior. Hence, whenever a student scores low marks on a weekly test, it affects their mental health and confidence. They are cut off from the world and boxed into their classes and rooms.
In order to cope with the pressure, many students end up with a smoking addiction, including cannabis.
What are the authorities doing to curb student suicide cases in Kota?
A student cell was formed in June by Umesh Mishra, the Rajasthan Director General of Police. Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Chandrasheel Thakur is in charge of that cell. He claims that ever since the student cell has been formed, they have received 150 distress calls out of which in 45 calls, the students said they didn’t want to live.
Whenever they receive such a call, a team that includes a counsellor is sent to that spot. They inform the coaching institute where the vulnerable student goes to and hold counselling sessions thereon. Their parents are also informed and if need be, the student is sent back home.
The District Collector has asked institutes to not hold weekly tests for the next two months. The institutes have also been asked to have one weekday which will be “half-day study and half-day fun”.
The state government has allotted 3 clinical psychologists to study the rise in student suicide cases in Kota, while the President of the Hostel Association has called for mandatory attendance during lunch and dinner hours, motivational posters being stuck in every hostel room, and recreational activities being organized for the students.
What are your views on these steps?