The suicide of Anitha (17), a NEET aspirant from Ariyalur, had literally shocked the state Tamil Nadu in 2017. The student had ended her life after her failure in her legal struggle against the NEET, which buried her dreams of becoming a doctor, despite scoring 1,176 out of a total of 1,200 marks in her Class 12 board exam.
Her death triggered a wide repercussion in the state and several political parties, activists and students protested demanding the banning of NEET. However, the next year, the number of students registered and qualified in the NEET exam witnessed a rise.
One reason behind the increase in numbers of NEET aspirants was the training centres that opened across state and provided free training to the youth. The state government’s initiative of bringing out books for NEET exams in Tamil also had an impact.
Even then, the suicides did not stop.
After Anitha, S Pratibha (17) from Villupuram ended her life in 2018. She had scored 1,125 in her school final, but 39 in NEET. Another girl, Ashtalakshmi (17), from the same district, attempted suicide but was saved. She had scored 738 in Class 12 and 37 in NEET.
In the same year, K Subhashree (17) from Tiruchy, who had scored 907 in Class 12 boards and 24 in NEET, ended her life.
This year, two students, Ridhu Shree (17) from Tirupur and Vaishya (17) from Thanjavur, committed suicide. While the former scored 490 out of 600 in Class 12 and the latter is also said to have scored more than 90 per cent in her school final, both the students scored low marks in the NEET and they took the extreme step.
Out of the five students, at least three were believed to be from the Dalit community. The districts they came from — Ariyalur, Villupuram, Tirupur, Trichy and Thanjavur — are economically and socially backward. Most of them studied in government schools.
Though every year girl students outnumber the men, none of the cases involving male students to commit suicide has been reported in the state.
Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available on the state’s health helpline 104 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050.