A 16-year old girl Sneha Suman preparing for medical entrance examinations in a coaching centre in Kota has been reported to have committed suicide on 26th September 2016. In the 9 months of the year 2016, she is the 8th student to have committed suicide in Kota. Last year, 17 students being coached for various entrance exams in Kota had committed suicide.
Sneha, like many students at Kota, was preparing for her entrance examinations. Her faculties at the coaching centre have claimed that her average score during the internal test had always been between 75%-80% making her a “good student.” Yet, Sneha allegedly hanged herself in her hostel room on Monday night in Kota. Having found no note written the police have not been able to give the accurate reason for her to take this extreme step.
Though we can’t be sure of the reason for Sneha’s extreme step, we need to understand that suicide is not a comfortable option to die but a cry for help. Suicide is often followed by a period of acute stress and helplessness. One of the major reasons of increasing stress in students across the country is the sheer competition to get into the coveted top ranking institutes.
The admit ratio of institutes is quite less and this increases the pressure on students to make it to these institutes. They are made to feel by their parents, teachers and peers that this is a do or die situation.
When will this end?
Parents and teachers need to understand that intense pressure on the students is harmful to their mental health. The misplaced faith in the notion of “Only an engineer/doctor from can bring respect and career success” needs to be abandoned. They should take care of finding out the child’s interest area and encouraging the child to pursue it.
What can parents do?
Parenting counsellor Aamir Mehboob believes that only remedy to curb stress and undue tension that children are going through is to give them a congenial environment, an environment suited to their taste, interest and comfort.
A very important point for parents to note is that a child or an adolescent looks for a confidante in his elders. There has to be someone s/he can trust to share the concerns or worries. Encouraging words will play an important role in helping a child overcome stress. The power of appreciation should not be underestimated. If your child is preparing for the tough entrance examination, the stress can be reduced in a huge way by encouraging them to give their best without worrying about the results.
Another point to be noted by parents is to ensure that you are not pushing your dreams on your children. Your child is a different individual and can have different interests and dreams than yours.
Parents need to support their children in bringing out the best that they have, not what they “consider” to be the best.
What can teachers do?
Teachers play a crucial role in the life of a student and they need to understand this importance, especially in the formative years of 15-22 age in the students’ lives. They can become a source of inspiration and motivate the students to give their best through soulful conversations.
But these days, teachers are exhausted and frustrated and are eventually failing to interact with students apart from studies. They also tend to give sole importance to studies ignoring the stress students may go through. In Kota especially where the students are categorised based on their performance and grades, teachers tend to be partial towards those who get better scores than those who manage to be only average. This constant comparison overburdens the students. A teacher must understand that they are not only responsible for sharing their knowledge about the syllabus but also maintain the stress levels of the students.
What can students do?
Students can also help themselves:
Due to intense competition, it is natural to feel low and stressed at some times. It is strongly suggested that if the pressure seems very high, the students have a frank conversation with their family member, teacher or a trusted friend. Talking out one’s concerns helps immensely.
Also, students need to remember that no exam can single-handedly decide their success or failure in life. It is not necessary to be better than everyone else in the class or in the neighbourhood. It is important to be one’s best version. Focusing on self is far more beneficial than worrying about a comparison.
The most important question to ask oneself is – Is your goal of clearing a certain exam is aligned with your field of interest or you are pursuing it because others tell you that you “should” do it? Each one of us has a unique talent and potential which should be explored rather than following a herd mentality. If you are confused about what is your field of interest is, talk to a career expert. They can help you immensely by helping you realise the right career for you.