'Darwaze pe dastak': Kota police's initiative to prevent student suicides
The police has asked mess workers and tiffin providers to promptly report any instances of students repeatedly missing meals or leaving their tiffin unconsumed.
In response to a series of student suicides, Kota, the coaching hub, is enlisting the help of hostel wardens, mess staff, and tiffin service providers to detect signs of depression or stress among students residing in hostels and PG accommodations.
While the wardens are being encouraged to participate actively in the 'Darwaze pe dastak' (knock on door) campaign, the city police has urged the mess workers and tiffin providers to report if a student is repetitively absent from the mess and skipping meals or anyone's tiffin is found unconsumed.
"We have launched a campaign called 'Darwaze pe dastak' where we are encouraging wardens to make it a routine to knock on each students' door at around 11 pm, ask them if they are okay, notice their activities, and keep a vigil just to ensure that there are no signs of stress, depression or abnormal activity.
"After coaching, the students spend maximum time in hostels, and hence wardens should be the first one to notice the signs," Chandrasheel Thakur, ASP, Kota told PTI.
Over 2.5 lakh students move to Kota annually to prepare for competitive exams such as the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for engineering and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical colleges.
The year 2023 saw the highest number of student suicides -- 22 so far -- with two ending their lives in a gap of a few hours on August 27. Last year, the figure was 15.
Packed schedule, cut-throat competition, constant pressure to do better, burden of parents' expectations and homesickness are the common struggles of the students here.
Psychologists have been warning that there are always signs that go undetected before any child takes the extreme step.
"The idea is to detect these early signs. If any student is repetitively missing classes or skipping meals, there has to be something. We want to identify these children, get them counselled before they get pushed to the brim. We have launched a dedicated number on which wardens, mess workers and tiffin providers can give us this information," he added.
Naveen Mittal, president, Kota Hostel Association said there are 3,500 hostels and 25,000 paying guest (PG) accommodations in Kota.
Garima Singh, warden, Amratingali Girls Residency said she knocks on the doors of children regularly.
“The idea is not to disturb them, but to keep a check if they are fine. If someone is sleeping for unusual hours, I discuss with them if they are just tired or unwell. I check their mess logbooks too. If someone has not eaten meals in the mess, I ask if he or she did not like the food or is it because of some stress,” she said.
The district administration recently directed the coaching institutes to stop conducting routine tests for students preparing for NEET and other competitive exams for the next two months in the wake of the latest suicides.
Gagendra Soni, warden of a boys hostel said, “Some boys opt for tiffin service rather than mess food. We notice sometimes that the tiffin is lying outside the room. We take it very seriously now and try to strike a conversation." In a desperate move, the authorities had recently ordered hostels to install a spring device on ceiling fans to stop students from taking their lives.
(With agency inputs)
Suicide helpline numbers:
(Suicides can be prevented. For help please call Suicide Prevention Helplines: Neha Suicide Prevention Centre – 044-24640050; Aasara helpline for suicide prevention, emotional support & trauma help — +91-9820466726; Kiran, Mental health rehabilitation — 1800-599-0019, Disha 0471- 2552056, Maithri 0484 2540530, and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050.)