‘122 students attempted suicide from 2014-2021’: Why there is a surge in suicide cases of students from IITs and NITs?

The recent spate of suicide attempts in NITs and IITs underscores the urgent need for systemic changes to address mental health issues

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Almost every day there is a piece of news being reported of students from IITs and NITs dying by suicide. Be it a toxic environment or study pressure, various reasons push students to the brink which makes them take such serious steps. Over the past 22 days, a disturbing pattern has emerged in India's prestigious National Institutes of Technology (NITs), five cases of students trying to kill themselves have been reported, bringing to light a critical and pressing issue. This alarming trend not only underscores the mental health crisis afflicting students but also highlights the urgent need for systemic changes to address and prevent such mishappenings.

The recent surge in suicide attempts within NITs and IITs reveals a deeper, systemic issue affecting students at these prestigious institutions. At the heart of the crisis lies immense academic pressure, with students grappling to meet high expectations, secure top grades, and obtain lucrative job placements. This relentless pursuit of excellence often results in overwhelming stress and fear of failure. Additionally, these institutions frequently lack robust mental health support systems, compounded by the pervasive stigma surrounding mental health issues. This discourages students from seeking help. Many students also experience profound isolation and loneliness, having moved away from their familiar support networks for the first time. The competitive environment further exacerbates these feelings, fostering a culture of constant comparison and inadequacy. Despite some institutions offering counselling services, they are typically understaffed and under-resourced, making it difficult to provide timely and effective support. This combination of factors creates a high-stakes, pressure-cooker environment that significantly impacts students' mental well-being.

What does the study say about Suicide Attempts in IITs/NITs?

As per Ministry of Education, 122 students from IITs, NITs, central universities and other central institutions died by suicide in 2014-21. Six students killed themselves in 2023 and 15 students in 2022. In last 22 days, 5 students are attempted suicide 1 NIT Durgapur, 1 NIT Calicut, 1 NIT Bhopal,1 NIT Silchar.

Addressing the mental health crisis in NITs and IITs requires a multifaceted approach that strengthens the support system. One critical step is to enhance mental health support is by hiring more counsellors and establishing peer support programs, ensuring students have access to timely and approachable help. Promoting mental health awareness through workshops, seminars, and anti-stigma campaigns can educate students on recognizing distress and encourage them to seek help without fear of judgment. Creating a supportive campus environment through mentorship programs and extracurricular activities can help students build a sense of belonging and find balance in their lives. To alleviate academic pressure, institutions can introduce more flexible curriculums and ensure the academic calendar includes adequate breaks and holidays, allowing students to recharge and avoid burnout. Additionally, enhancing crisis intervention mechanisms, such as 24/7 helplines and dedicated crisis response teams, can provide immediate support during times of distress. By implementing these comprehensive strategies, NITs and IITs can foster a culture of care and compassion, ensuring students' academic and personal well-being are prioritized.

The recent spate of suicide attempts in NITs and IITs underscores the urgent need for systemic changes to address mental health issues among students. By enhancing mental health support systems, promoting awareness, creating a supportive campus environment, reducing academic pressure, and improving crisis intervention mechanisms, these institutions can foster a culture of care and compassion. Immediate and decisive actions must be taken to ensure the well-being and holistic development of students, preventing further tragedies and enabling them to thrive both academically and personally.