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Factors driving students to suicide

At one point of time, Tamil Nadu had the dubious distinction of leading in the number of suicides in the country. A large proportion of that was by the student community.

Factors driving students to suicide
Dr Lakshmi Vijayakumar, psychiatrist, founder of SNEHA and WHO Consultant on suicide prevention


There are a variety of factors that drive students to take their own lives. First is our educational system and the issues around the same. Next is the pressure from family in terms of expectations, the money spent on funding the same, and the huge socio-cultural divide between urban and rural living. The third trigger is the inter-personal relationships. 

Students are extremely impulsive at this age and cannot regulate their emotional reactions. They end up getting into relationships and difficulties they cannot handle. Fourth, there are peer related issues which are always difficult to handle at any stage in life. 

In the final analysis, the single most important reason for a student to take his/her life is when they are put to shame. This happens when they are unable to pay fees and their name is displayed in public. When they are shamed by teachers in class for poor performance in tests and exams. Rejection of love and friendship in front of an audience is another trigger for suicide. Tamil Nadu has handled one of these flash points by allowing those who have failed to sit for supplementary exams. This has helped bring down suicides. 

However, we need to change the single exam kind of evaluation and bring in a systematic evaluation of all round skills. Parents likewise should deal with their own expectations and not be driven by marks and placements in their interactions with their children. Students also need to know that there is no instant gratification in life, and everything takes time and hard work. 

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