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Gehlots I Didnt Lose Courage Message Amid Increase In Suicides In Kota: I Wanted To Become A Doctor, But…

New Delhi: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday expressed concern over the rising number of suicides in Kota. While addressing the inauguration ceremony of state-level ‘Yuva Mahapanchayat’, Gehlot said that 20 students dying by suicide in the last eight months in Kota is ‘saddening’ and a ‘matter of concern’. He said that in his childhood, he wanted to become a doctor and used to study till 2-3 am. 

“But I did not succeed. However, I did not lose courage. I changed my path, became a social worker, entered politics and today I am in front of you,” Ashok Gehlot told the gathering.

“I had never imagined I would become a chief minister thrice, would serve as union minister three times,” the Congress leader said, adding that the families must understand that they should not put pressure on their children. 

“Let them be whatever they want to be,” he said.

Gehlot’s remarks came a day after a 17-year-old JEE aspirant allegedly hanged himself in his hostel room in Kota, the third case of suspected suicide in last two weeks by students taking classes at this coaching hub.

This is reportedly the twentieth case of suspected suicide so far this year by coaching students preparing for competitive examinations in the Rajasthan city.

The growing number of suicides by students taking classes in Kota has once again rang an alarm bell among parents, teachers, hostel owners, and authorities. More than 2 lakh students are currently living in over 25,000 paying guest rooms and 3,500 hostels taking coaching for entrance exams in various coaching institutes in Kota.

Kota admin to conduct psychological test of students to curb suicides

In a bid to check the rising cases of suicide by coaching students, the Kota administration will conduct psychological tests of coaching students every fortnight. The tests will help in finding out suicidal tendencies among students so that they could be provided with timely counselling.

The decision was taken at a district-level meeting with representatives of coaching institutes, hostels and other stakeholders on Saturday to review the implementation of guidelines for coaching institutes and hostels.

“We are going to conduct psychological test every fortnight of every coaching student, whether he is in a coaching institute, a hostel or PG,” Kota district collector OP Bunkar told media after the review meeting.

The psychological test is meant to ascertain the psychological status of the student and experts will provide counselling if needed, he said.

Kota City SP Sharad Choudhary recommended the formation of a delegation of parents whose children are studying in Kota and stressed that the proposed delegation keeps in touch with the district administration regarding their children. It would also ensure the participation of parents of the students in its efforts to check suicides among students, he said.

District collector Bunkar also directed the officials to strictly implement guidelines for coaching institutes, hostels and PGs. Ensure that rooms in every hostel and PGs are equipped with security devices so that deaths by hanging could be averted, he said. The collector also asked for compulsory Sundays off in coaching institutes and there should not be any tests on that day.

10,732 suicide cases of students below age of 18 years in 2021 

Earlier this week, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sushil Kumar Modi expressed concern over increasing cases of suicides among students. In a special mention about the issue, he told the Rajya Sabha that there have been 10,732 suicide cases of students below the age of 18 years in 2021 only, showing a growth of 4.5 per cent from 2020.

“In 2021, there have been 10, 732 suicide cases of students below the age of 18 years. It depicted an increase of 4.5 per cent from the previous year. In the last five years, 75 students have committed suicide at IIT, IIM, AIIMS, and other top premier institutions. These cases have been increasing at a concerning rate,” Sushil Modi told the Upper House of Parliament.

He further said that the high number of suicides reflects the severe mental and physical stress the students go through to secure college admissions in the premier universities.

“The high number of suicides reflects the severe mental and physical stress the students go through to secure college admissions in premier universities. The students face severe academic stress and develop mental health issues because of the intensive competition in the medical and engineering examinations,” he added

The former deputy Bihar chief minister further said that factors like low self-esteem due to poor scores in examinations at the coaching centres, pressures of parental expectations, financial constraints, and the stigma around poor performance contribute to the students constantly deteriorating mental health.

“The consequences of relentless academic pressure are extremely concerning. Thus I request the government to develop a comprehensive suicide prevention mechanism and implement the same in mission mode to harness the results at the earliest,” he said.

He further requested the Central government to take a proactive initiative to enhance mental health support within coaching institutes, schools, and universities.

“The number of councillors available should be increased, and a mechanism should be developed to communicate openly between the students and the councillors. There should be awareness campaigns targeting teachers, parents, and students,” he said.

Sushil Modi further said that increased awareness among the public will help in the early identification and treatment of suicidal tendencies.

“So, I urge the government to look into the matter,” he added.

Suicides are preventable. A few major suicide prevention helpline numbers in India are 011-23389090 from Sumaitri (Delhi-based) and 044-24640050 from Sneha Foundation (Chennai-based).

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