Kota suicides: Experts call for mandatory counselling in April-May

Story by  IANS | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 05-05-2024
Kota market place full of signboards of coaching institutes
Kota market place full of signboards of coaching institutes



In the wake of rising suicides in Rajasthan's Kota, experts have termed April and May "high-risk months" for NEET and JEE aspirants and called on the district administration to make students' counselling mandatory in all PGs and hostels.

Recently, two students committed suicide in Kota within a gap of 48 hours a few days before their NEET examination, which is scheduled for May 5.

One amongst them, Bharat, in his suicide note, wrote, "I am sorry papa, please forgive me, I couldn't do it this time too." Bharat, a resident of Dholpur, was preparing for the NEET entrance test and had committed suicide by hanging himself.

Bhupesh Dikshit, a public health expert at 'Shikshit Rozgaar Kendra Prabhandhak Samiti' says, "As major entrance exams are conducted in summer, April and May are like high-risk months. The administration should pay more attention to all those places where coaching centres are operated. The district and police administration should stay alert. Monitoring of all PGs and hostels should be done. Students' counselling should be made mandatory. Besides this, patrolling during night hours should be intensified and a rapid action team should be formed to monitor the activities of students."

Kota's coaching industry is worth up to Rs 5,000 crore and has garnered fame for producing toppers in various entrance tests. But sadly, coaching centres in the city have failed to bring a solution to stop the series of suicides by students.

So far in 2024, nine students have already committed suicide in the city. Last year, 29 students lost their lives due to suicides.

Psychologist Eena Budhiraja blames rising consumerism for the increasing suicides in Kota. She says, "It's a fact that every child is talented. But everyone has a different talent. Fish can swim in water, but cannot walk on land. The human brain develops in different ways. But in today's consumerist world, money is being given more importance. In such a situation, parents want children to take a career where they can earn decent money. This is why they often think their child should either become a doctor or an engineer without considering the child's actual talent."

Meanwhile, different surveys in Kota have indicated that four out of every ten students in the city are under depression. There are about 3000 private hostels in Kota, which have thousands of rooms, and over two lakh students come to the city for medical and engineering coaching.

Among these aspirants, a few left this world leaving behind suicide notes for their parents saying sorry to them, which bespeaks the kind of pressure they were fighting with.

JEE aspirant Niharika, committed suicide and left a note, which read: "Sorry mummy papa, I can't crack JEE so am committing suicide. I am a loser and have been unable to be a good daughter. Sorry mummy papa, but this is the only option left with me." Her brother later revealed that she was under tremendous pressure.

Another JEE aspirant from Bihar's Bhagalpur consumed poison ending his life. In his suicide note, he wrote: "Papa, (I) am unable to crack JEE, also couldn't gain the courage to speak out this fact to you. I quit."

The list of such suicides is long and these incidents have left one and all to think why children are under so much pressure. Why are they not realising the importance of life? Why becoming a doctor or an engineer is so important?

Deepa Khandelwal, a mother, says, "Our education system is largely responsible for leaving students under pressure. There are very few career options in the humanities, you can become a teacher, but you will get a small salary. Similarly, it isn't easy to run household expenses with music, dance, or photography. Civil services examination is also not for everyone. Medicine and engineering are lucrative careers and to crack entrance exams, coaching has become necessary."

In a letter to parents recently, Kota District Collector Ravinder Goswami stated, "A child’s happiness means the world to their parents, however, this happiness should not be connected to scores he gets in exams."

He noted that the problem arises when the happiness of children is associated with the marks they obtain in the exams.

"Does one become successful only by passing an exam? No," Goswami wrote. He urged parents to give their wards a chance to improve themselves as his own parents did to him when he returned home from Kota, where he had stayed for the preparation of PMT but failed once.

The District Collector appealed to the parents to speak to their wards regularly, listen to them and make them believe that they are the most needed ones and most precious to them.

Goswami also wrote a letter separately to students, in which he noted that failures give one the opportunity to surmount the mistakes committed in life and turn the failures into success.

The District Collector also noted that the exam is only a phase in life and not the ultimate goal and it cannot determine the direction of one's life.