IIT Madras PhD student dies today; Third death this year
Ishita Ranganath|Mar 31, 2023
NEW DELHI: Data shared by the ministry of education with Rajya Sabha on Wednesday shows that over the last five years, as many as 61 students in India’s premier engineering and management institutions – Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), National Institutes of Technology (NIT) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) – died by suicide. In just the two-and-a-half months of 2023, six IIT and NIT students have taken their own lives.
Data shared in parliament shows that suicide rates in these institutions have risen since 2018 which recorded 11 deaths. In 2019, that rose to 16 but plunged to five and seven in 2020 and 2021 respectively. These were the Covid-19 pandemic years and the campuses were mostly empty as students were sent home. Once the pandemic abated in 2022, the number rose sharply again with 16 deaths in 2022.
The question was asked by Rajya Sabha MP from Congress, Lankappa Hanumanthaiah.
Hanumanthaiah also sought the reasons for the suicides. There has been huge controversy over the recent suicide of a first-year student from a historically-marginalised Scheduled Caste community at IIT Bombay. The student, Darshan Solanki’s sister and other activists have alleged caste discrimination which an internal committee appointed to investigate has dismissed.
The education ministry’s parliament reply says the reasons included “academic stress, family reasons, mental health issues, etc”.
In March, an IIT Madras student killed himself. This was the second suicide case from the institution this year and fourth in a last two years.
A total of 33 cases have been reported from IITs and 24 from NITs over 2018-2023.
Given below are the numbers since 2018.
Student suicides over 5 years
When asked about the steps taken, the ministry said: “The higher educational institutions take various steps such as conducting workshops/ seminars on Happiness and Wellness, regular sessions on Yoga, induction programs, extracurricular activities including sports and cultural activities, assigning of one faculty adviser per 10 students to support with their academics and monitor their progress, and appointment of Student Counsellors for overall personality development and de-stressing students. Further, students, wardens and caretakers are sensitised to bring to notice the signs of depression in fellow students to the authorities so that timely clinical consultation may be provided.”
In 2021, education ministry had told parliament that 122 students from IITs, NITs and central universities died by suicide between 2014-21 with 58% of them from historically-marginalised SC, ST, OBC and minority communities.
Further, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2021, over 13,000 students died by suicide in the year citing ‘failure of examination’ as the reason.
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