“I beg of you, please do not end your lives” – MK Stalin, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday, pleaded to aspirants of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test as reports of student suicides made news in the state. In the heart-felt appeal, he further told the tormented students that “nothing is impossible for you”.
On Wednesday, succumbing to an overwhelming fear of not clearing the competitive NEET, a 17-year-old girl allegedly took her life in Tamil Nadu. Hers was the third death linked to the exam in the past four days, even as the state government makes efforts to seek exemption for the state from NEET by tabling a Bill to that effect in the Assembly.
The girl, the daughter of a daily wager, had taken the NEET 2021 for admission to undergraduate medical courses after scoring 84.9 per cent in class 12, said an NDTV report. She was reportedly anxious about passing the exam.
CM Stalin in his appeal told all panicked students: “I beg of you, please do not end your lives. Nothing is impossible for you. Study with that confidence. Parents, too, should instill self-confidence in children and not stress them out.”
He further advised the students to talk to mental health experts by dialling 104.
“NEET shuts down the little opportunity that has opened up for students. The Union government is stone-hearted. It is not climbing down (from its stated position). We will create a situation to scrap NEET,” he added.
On September 14, another 17-year-old student had died by suicide after taking NEET on Monday. A day earlier, on Sunday, 19-year-old Dhanush, a farm labourer’s son too committed suicide hours before the exam. He had failed to clear NEET in his last two attempts.
On Monday, the state government passed a Bill (which needs the President’s assent) exempting Tamil Nadu from NEET and allowing admission to medical colleges in the state based on Class 12 marks.
Meanwhile, Stalin told students not to lose hope and has assured that his government will continue the legal struggle against NEET in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu continues its resistance against NEET for being heavily tilted in favour of the wealthy, while poor students and those in rural areas lag behind due to the lack of private coaching.
Over the last few years, 15 medical aspirants have died by suicide in the state, said the NDTV report.
Retd Justice AK Rajan, who had examined impact of NEET and coaching centres in medical admissions, had recommended scrapping the national entrance exam saying it worked against vernacular and poor students.
NEET was introduced in TN during the UPA regime. The then TN Chief Minister MK Karunanidhi – MK Stalin’s father – had managed to get presidential approval for exemption from NEET for the state. But the AIADMK government failed to get a similar exemption from its ally BJP. The Supreme Court too had ruled that NEET should stay.
(Please reach out to a mental health specialist if you need support or know someone who does. Helplines: AASRA: +91 98204 66726; SAHAI: 080 25497777)