After five children ended their lives in a span of two weeks, experts feel that the amount of attention, revealing of graphic details, and reasons for taking the extreme step have led to similar incidents in Tamil Nadu.
“After the first Class XII girl ended her life, of the remaining four students, three were Class XII and one was Class XI. And since the first student who ended her life was a girl, of the remaining four students, three were girls,” said Dr. NS Moni, a consultant psychiatrist in Tamil Nadu.
Watch: Rise in suicides: What drives teens to take the extreme step?
According to Moni, schoolchildren tend to connect themselves with the student who ended her life.
“Students might be under similar pressure and once you reveal the reason and once the other person comes to know about it, it is easy for them to relate with the one who died. The probability of similar incidents is higher and it is the responsibility of the media and people around the students to be more cautious,” Moni explained.
Sangeetha, a psychologist who frequently visits private schools in the State, feels that the pressure among the students is real and it is because of the expectations of the parents and the teachers.
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“The education system dumps everything on a student and they pin their hopes on the student. The very pressure itself was killing the souls of a number of students,” Sangeetha said.
She also said that the post-COVID scenario was completely different from the pre-pandemic time.
“The children are exposed to a lot of things during the online classes. And suddenly, when they are put inside four walls in front of a teacher, they cannot take it all of a sudden. Teachers also cannot be blamed for this. Most of the time, it is the parents who push the schools and the teachers to conduct special classes and avoid extracurricular activities. When there are no extracurricular activities, where will the students relax,” asked Sangeetha.
Watch: Anatomy of a student death followed by violent protests
The series of suicides started after a Class XII student of a residential school was found dead inside the school premises. The violence after the death of the girl grabbed the attention of the people in the State. Even before the tension surrounding the violence, the State started witnessing a spate of suicides, five students in two weeks.
Coordinator of State’s helpline 104, S Saravanan, shared that the number of calls they receive daily has considerably increased after the death of the Class XII student in Kallakurichi.
“The numbers have increased and even if we miss a call, we follow them back and speak to them. We call them at least twice to check on them and counsel them. More specifically, calls from students have increased and we launched counselling sessions for the NEET aspirants and as well as the Class XII students,” Saravanan said.
Speaking about the spate of suicides, educationalist Prince Gajendra Babu felt the students feel the pressure on education alone, but also on socio-economic terms as well.
“Schools and the teachers don’t know the economic and social condition of the students. They don’t know under what circumstances the students attend the classes. This happens mostly in private schools. Parents are also forced to admit their wards to private institutions as the government has not improved its standards,” felt Babu.
Asked about it, an official with the school education department said that they had sent a circular to government as well as private schools on how to treat the students inside the school premises. “We would also inspect the private residential schools in the State to know how they treat the students inside the classroom as well as in their hostels,” the official said.
(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, TN health helpline 104 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050.)