From schools to IIT Hyderabad, student suicides rampant in Telangana, AP

Hyderabad: From residential schools to colleges and from professional colleges and universities to institutes like IITs, it’s an unending saga of suicides by students at educational institutions in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

While the stress of study and peer pressure are the main causes of a large number of suicides, factors like depression, relationship issues, and in some cases even ragging are driving students to suicide.

A 21-year-old post-graduate student of the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IIT-H) was found hanging in her hostel room on the campus on August 7.

Mamitha Nayak was a first-year post-graduate student and joined the master’s programme in civil engineering only a few days ago at the campus located at Kandi in Sangareddy district, about 60 km from Hyderabad.

Police found a suicide note from her room in which she wrote that nobody was responsible for her death and that she was under severe mental pressure.

She was the second IIT-H student to have died by suicide in less than a month, and the fourth over the last year.

D. Karthik (21) had died by suicide by drowning in the sea at Visakhapatnam as he was depressed over his backlogs.

A student of B. Tech (Mechanical) second year, he had left the campus on July 17. His body was recovered on Visakhapatnam beach on July 25.

The student, who hailed from Miryalguda in Nalgonda district of Telangana, was upset over being unable to clear the backlogs in examinations.

Four students of IIT-H have died by suicide in a year. In September last year, Megha Kapur (22), a native of Rajasthan, had jumped to death from a lodge in Sangareddy town, near the IIT Hyderabad campus

The B. Tech student, who had some backlogs, was staying in a lodge.

In August last year, G. Rahul, a native of Nandyal in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh and a second-year M. Tech student, hanged himself in his hostel room due to placement and thesis pressure.

He wrote in the suicide note, the institute should not force students to complete the thesis. “If he is exhausted, he will do more research on suicide, and ultimately his research will succeed. Because of this, I did smoking and drinking to come out of the pressure but I could not,” he wrote in the note that police retrieved from his laptop.

In 2019, IIT-Hyderabad saw three suicides and in all the cases students cited academic pressure, peer pressure, and depression for taking the extreme step.

Concerned over the incidents, the IIT-H authorities have opened a counseling center with experts in psychology to counsel students to cope with the pressure.

Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies (RGUKT), popularly known as IIIT Basar, in the Nirmal district of Telangana is another institute reporting student suicides with regularity.

On August 8, a 17-year-old student of first-year Pre University Course (PUC), was found hanging in the hostel room on the varsity’s campus.

The student is suspected to have ended his life after he reportedly grew homesick. Hailing from Sangareddy district, he had joined the institute a week ago and he was reportedly feeling lonely.

On June 15, a girl student died under suspicious circumstances. A student of PUC first year fell down from the fourth floor of the hostel building on the campus.

On June 13, a girl student in PUC’s first year was found hanging in the bathroom on the varsity’s campus.

She resorted to the extreme step after writing the physics exam. The student hailing from the Sangareddy district was reportedly under mental stress. She had approached the teachers after attending the exam. Even as the teachers were trying to counsel her, she went to the washroom and ended her life.

Basar IIIT recorded two suicides last year. In December last year, a student hanged himself in a boy’s hostel on campus.

The 17-year-old wrote in a suicide note that he is committing suicide due to personal reasons.

In August last year, a 19-year-old student, who was studying the first year of B. Tech integrated programme, hanged himself.

He was suspected to have taken the extreme step due to personal reasons.

In May 2020, a student in PUC’s first year committed suicide by jumping off from atop a building following a tussle with his classmate over a girl.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, known for several leading educational institutions and also the best coaching centres to train students for the country’s top professional courses, account for a large number of students suicides in the country.

In April this year, 10 students died by suicide 48 hours after the results of intermediate (class 11 and 12) were declared. The students had failed the exams or scored less marks.

Data collated from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) by Hakku Initiative, a platform that works on solutions with citizens and governments on behalf of the Institute of Perception Studies, revealed that over 3,600 students died by suicide in Telangana alone from 2014 to 2021.

According to K. Rebecca Maria, Counseling psychologist, 1Life, a suicide prevention helpline, relationship issues, educational stress, stiff competition, huge expectations from parents are the major reasons for suicides. In some cases, ragging in educational institutions also drive students to take the extreme step.

“There are huge expectations from parents which add to the pressure. If the children score 70 per cent marks, they expect 90 per cent. Then there are relationship issues, be it one-sided love or a love triangle. If there is a break-up, they feel this is the end,” the psychologist said.

“Some people openly talk about feeling suicidal. They seek help while there is another set of people who don’t talk. They just go and commit suicide,” she said.

Maria believes that every situation can be tackled provided the right person is available who is ready to listen.

“Counselor and psychologists try to bring positivity into the lives of such people. We try to gain their confidence and create positivity through set examples and affirmations,” she said.

Those with suicidal thoughts hesitate to share their problem because they feel that the person they are sharing their problem with may be judgmental or he may reveal it to others. In small sessions in colleges, they don’t share their problems before others.

“None of the psychologists are judgmental or biased. We tell them not to worry and assure them to maintain secrecy. Once we gain their confidence, they start sharing their problem and thus the situation can be tackled.”

In many cases, students may not feel suicidal but they suffer from depression. “If this problem is not addressed in first or second year, the person will start developing suicidal thoughts in the third year,” she said.

Maria emphasised the need for creating a situation where the students feeling lonely and worthless start feeling positive and confident.

“Some students feel they don’t have friends. When you are lonely, lot of negative thoughts come to mind. We suggest they socialise and keep themselves occupied so that they feel positivity,” she said and suggested mental exercises like meditation, yoga and pursuing personal hobbies to develop positive behaviour.