Kamal Hassan urges alternatives for NEET after students’ suicides

This year's exam could have been the girl's second attempt, but she said in her suicide note: ‘I am sorry. I am tired’

File photo: PTI

Expressing concern over the recent death of a female NEET aspirant in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai, actor-politician Kamal Haasan on Saturday (September 12) urged the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government to “think of alternatives and implement them expeditiously”.

Taking to Twitter, Kamal Haasan said, “What are we going to do to ensure that Jyoti Durga’s death is the last in the NEET related deaths? Central and state governments need to think of alternatives and implement them expeditiously. It is our duty to give our children hope and mental strength. Let’s do it!”

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Jyothi Durga, a 19-year-old girl from Madurai preparing for the NEET exam in her second attempt committed suicide on Saturday, a day before the exam. It is the fourth such case in Tamil Nadu in recent months.

Yet another NEET aspirant Aditya of Dharmapuri district in Tamil Nadu allegedly killed himself at his house when his mother was away in Salem on Saturday (September 12).

Earlier, sources said Jothi Durga could not secure a seat in a medical college during her first attempt last year. “You all have high expectations of me. I am sorry. If at all, I could not secure a seat in college, all your hard work for me will go in vain. I am sorry. I am tired,” the aspirant said in her suicide note.

The police said mounting pressure on her over the exam might have been the reason behind her suicide.

“She was determined to do MBBS,” said one of her friends who prepared along with her for the exam.

Before Durga and Aditya, in Tamil Nadu, two other NEET aspirants have committed suicide. On September 9 in Ariyalur district, V. Vignesh (19) reportedly left his house with a torch and hours later he was found dead in a well. His slippers and torch were found next to the well.

This was Vignesh’s third and final attempt for the NEET exam. He did not leave any suicide note, but his friends and family alleged that he feared failure in his final attempt at cracking NEET.

Related news: Child suicides rattle Kerala with bizzare reasons, high numbers

“He did go for coaching classes. We were told his father borrowed money to admit him in a coaching class in the town. And he did well and secured a BDS seat in a self-financing college. But, as he was determined to pursue MBBS, he wanted to give another try,” said Solomon, a friend who was preparing for NEET exam in the same coaching centre where Vignesh studied.

However, the COVID pandemic has hit him hard and he could not access online study material and attend the mock tests which others in the town were able to do,” Solomon said.

In August, a 19-year-old girl committed suicide allegedly over the fear of upcoming NEET exam. The girl was also preparing for the second attempt after she could not crack it in the first attempt.

Between 2017 and 2019, five NEET aspirants have committed students and all of them were girls.

While educationalists cite social and economic factors as the reason, psychiatrists believe that the pandemic might have been one of the mental health reasons for the pattern.

“The students have written their Class XII board exams and cleared the exams after studying from the textbook given to them. How do you expect the students to clear another exam for entering medical colleges, that too with a different syllabus?” asked Prince Gajendrababu, an educationist.

Related news: How uncertainty amid COVID-19 is hurting JEE, NEET aspirants

“If we have to go by the statistics, NEET exam has clearly shown the difference between the haves and have-nots,” said Gajendrababu. “Only those who have resources could clear NEET, while those from the disadvantaged section of the society will be left in the lurch. That is what we have seen in the last three years,” he said.

Along with social-economic factors, the pandemic too has taken a heavy toll on the mental health of the students.

“As a society, we do not take our children’s words seriously. Parents should talk to them soon after knowing their problems,” Dr. Mony, a psychiatrist, said.

He said high expectations from parents only added to pressure on the children. “Many children cannot handle such pressure. Parents should never impose anything on their children,” Dr Mony said.

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