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Academic Distress’ and Student Suicides in India



Source: Indian Express

 Context: Three students, who were preparing for entrance tests in Kota Rajasthan, died allegedly by suicide in two separate incidents.


More students died by suicide than farmers, while farmers’ suicides are widely recognised as a crisis in India, students’ suicides are increasingly swept under the rug.


Data on Student Suicides:

  • India’s adolescent and youth population – people below the age of 25 – account for 53.7% of the population. Yet, most of these youths are not employable as they lack the requisite skills.
  • According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), in 2020, a student took their own life every 42 minutes; that is, every day, more than 34 students died by suicide.


Reasons for rising Students Suicide:

  • Social Stigma: not enough discussion about depression and suicides
  • Academic Pressure 
  • Relationship breakdown.
  • Lack of adequate support: the ‘Log Kya Kahenge’ attitude in Indian society is a permanent feature in the lives of competitive exam aspirants.
  • High expectations from Students.
  • Mental IssuesAnxiety disorder, depression, personality disorder.


Steps that can be taken:

  • Mentorship programmes: There is no concept of mentors in Kota and every single student in the city is in a way a competitor despite being friends with each other.
  • Social Awareness.
  • Academic Support Groups by College administration.
  • Helplines by NGO and Civil Society Groups.
  • Social media groups: Groups can be formed where students can discuss the issues they face.


Ethics behind Suicides:

Suicide has been examined from various perspectives, most broadly categorized as moralist, libertarian, and relativist views.

  • For moralists, protecting life and preventing suicide is a moral obligation. Philosophers, such as Kant, maintain that humanity is an end in itself, meaning that the individual should be considered an end, rather than a means to an end. Thus, a person contemplating suicide is seen as using the self as a means to an end (that is, with an expected consequence), rather than as an end itself, which is unacceptable to Kantians. Plato emphasized peoples’ obligations to society, with suicide being inconsistent with the greater good. The moral perspective is evident in countries such as Singapore and India, where attempted suicide is a punishable offence.
  • From the libertarian perspective, suicide can be a carefully contemplated decision, often rationalized as a reasonable response to avoid pain or suffering. Libertarians value freedom of choice and the decision to die by suicide is a right. This attitude is reflected in countries where suicidal behaviour has been decriminalized or euthanasia has been legalized. Further to this philosophy, the right to suicide includes the right of non-interference from others, although this is not necessarily enforced in legal statutes.
  • From the relativist perspective, the obligation to protect life varies, and the acceptability of suicide depends on a cost-benefit analysis of variables, including situational, cultural, and contemporary The acceptability of suicide will depend on the needs of the individual, the family, and society at that moment, meaning that the cost-benefit analysis is influenced by a desire to maximize the social utility of suicide or not suicide.


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Preventing Student Suicides

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Q. Discuss critically the causes behind rising suicides among the youth in India.