Increasing number of students of IIT-G committing suicide  Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: Nagashree Aithal, a student from IIT Guwahati, allegedly committed suicide in her hostel room on Wednesday morning. The B.Tech 1st year mechanical engineering student was found hanging from the ceiling fan in her room.

The incident has once again drawn the country’s attention towards the increasing number of suicides in India, particularly by students.

In a telephonic interview with EastMojo, Labanu Konwar, Public Relations Officer of IIT- Guwahati, said, “Nagashree had joined the institute roughly a month and a half ago and had also undergone counselling, just like every other student of the organisation. However, the counsellor hadn’t found any such symptoms which could have alerted the counsellor.”

When asked if the authorities concerned had found any suicide note by the deceased student, Konwar said, “When the police had forced open the door to her room, they recovered a note in there, but the police had not yet divulged the content of the note.”

The alleged suicide has raised an important question as to what is it that is pushing these bright young minds to take such drastic measures with their lives.

Every hour, a student commits suicide in India: NCRB Report 2015 

Suicides not new to IIT-G

Nagashree’s death is not an isolated incident as many such incidents have come to the fore at IIT-G in the recent past. In 2016, a post-graduate student, Sarkar Intekhab Alam, allegedly committed suicide by hanging from a ceiling fan in his hostel room. In 2014, a 19-year-old electronics and communication engineering student, Tushar Yadav, was found dead behind his hostel building after jumping off his hostel rooftop.

There are certain media reports which put the number of suicides at IIT Guwahati at six. However, when asked to provide the exact number of suicides by students from within the campus, Konwar said, “The institute has not yet kept tabs on suicidal deaths within the campus.”

India recorded the highest suicide rates for youth aged 15 to 29: Lancet report, 2012

Where does India stand as far as student suicides are concerned?

Suicide cases involving students are not just limited to IITs, as the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report for the year 2015 reveals. As per the NCRB report, of the total 1,33,623 suicides committed in India in 2015, 6.7%, i.e, 8, 952 revolved around students. And, in the five years leading to 2015, 39,775 students killed themselves in India. The report further reveals that every hour, a student commits suicide in India.

Incidentally, the Northeast accounts for 4,465 suicides of the total suicides committed in India. But, there are no reports on the exact number of suicides committed by students in particular in the Northeast. However, in a written reply to AGP legislator Ramendra Narayan Kalita, the Assam government informed the Assembly last year that 304 students had committed suicide in the state in the past 16 years (up to January 2017), with a student committing suicide every month in Assam.

India had even earned the dubious distinction of having recorded the world’s highest suicide rates for youth aged 15 to 29 years, especially in women, according to a 2012 Lancet report, which calls for urgent interventions to reign in the number of suicide deaths.

What is even more worrisome is that the NCRB report on suicides in the country has not been available since 2015, which is why there has been no comprehensive national data on the same for the year 2016 and 2017. Attempting suicide is no longer a crime in India as the health ministry has notified the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 that decriminalises it. But, without concrete figures to refer to, it is difficult to understand the gravity of the situation so far as suicides in the country are concerned.

Such desperate times call for desperate measures, especially with India being the youngest country in the world, it is imperative to ensure that we do not keep losing our young and bright minds, and make an attempt to study and prevent the various circumstances that lead to such tragedies.

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