Stricter rules for Kota. Kota, known for its educational centers, is a hub for students aspiring to pass India’s competitive entrance exams for the best medical and engineering colleges. However, this intense environment has led to high rates of student suicides. Kota sees more than 100 student suicides in the past 10 years, with at least 25 in a single year, according to police data.
Pressure and Anxiety
Students like Vijay face immense pressure to succeed and live up to their parents’ expectations. Fearing disappointing his parents, Vijay resorted to lying about his test results. The stress became so overwhelming that he contemplated suicide after failing an exam. It’s a common story among students in Kota.
Breaking the Silence
Vijay’s perspective changed when he heard Bollywood star Deepika Padukone talk about her depression and the toll of overworking. Her openness about mental health struggles encouraged Vijay to seek help.
Hardships and High Expectations
Many students live away from their families, deal with high parental expectations, peer pressure, cut-throat competition, and long study hours. While the pursuit of a better future drives them, it also puts immense stress on their mental well-being.
Following the surge in student suicides in Kota, the Rajasthan state government introduced stricter regulations for coaching institutes. These include guidelines against enrolling students below class nine (aged 14) and not publishing test results. The government will emphasize mental health workshops and helplines, with more posters to promote support services.
Identifying Students at Risk
A team of 11 individuals, led by senior police officer Chandrasheel, was established to identify students displaying signs of depression. They visit hostels, monitor students, and engage with parents when necessary.
Impact of the Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns have exacerbated the challenges students face. The post-pandemic generation has a reduced capacity to cope with stress, according to Nitin Vijay, the managing director of Motion Education, one of India’s leading coaching centers. However, he believes the situation will improve with time.
Student Suicides in India
India’s struggle with student suicides is not unique to Kota. In 2021, over 13,000 students took their lives in the country, a 4.5% increase from the previous year, according to government data.
The issue highlights the need for a more holistic approach to education, one that prioritizes mental health and well-being alongside academic success.