The 20-year-old IIT-Madras student died by suicide on Tuesday. This is the second case of suicide in a month in the institution this year.
The deceased, Vaipuk Pushpak Sree Sai, was a native of Andhra Pradesh. He was pursuing a Bachelor Of Technology in Electrical Engineering and was in his third year.
The boy resided in the Alaknanda hostel at the IIT-Madras campus. The deceased was found hanging in his hostel room.
According to officials, Pushpak did not attend classes for the last week. His three roommates tried to talk to him but did not get an adequate response. On Tuesday, he did not open the door after the roommates returned from class. They called the authorities and found him hanging.
The Kotturpuram Police had registered the case of unnatural death, and the body was sent for postmortem.
A statement was issued by the University saying, “The parents of the student have been informed, and we request everyone to please respect the privacy of the family at this unfortunate moment. The Institute expresses its sincere condolences and stands united in grief along with the friends and family of the deceased student.”
The Reason Behind The Suicide
Police officials, in their investigation, found that Pushpak was not able to cope with the pressure of studies. “He had arrears which he could not clear. From our investigations, we have found that he couldn’t study properly and get good grades.”
On the visible side, the academic pressure led to the death of Pushpak. This kind of stress is not new for students in higher studies. According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), in 2020, a student took their own life every 42 minutes; that is, every day, more than 34 students died by suicide.
Students are not only stressed about their grades but also because of the discrimination and peer pressure they face. The professors who practice favouritism on a daily basis lead the student to go through mental trauma every day.
Many students have to go through rigorous stress before getting admitted to a prestigious college like IIT, and then again, they’ve to live with these kinds of discriminatory practices that affect their well-being and self-esteem.
IIT-Madras Director, V Kamakoti, provided four reasons for suicides on campus – personal reasons, health issues, financial stress, and academic pressure. He said that all these reasons are interconnected.
When asked about the suicides due to discrimination, the Director denied having any discrimination on campus. This denial comes after the students questioned the partial and discriminatory behavior of the University that led to suicide earlier this month.
Provisions In The Campus For Suicide Prevention
On February 14, when a postgraduate student died by suicide, and the other one attempted it, a group of students protested against the management. These students had put forward a list of demands with the director.
These demands included the external expert committee to study the mental health of the students and the professor-student relationship for research scholars. The students also demanded extended facilities like a 24×7 pharmacy. These facilities were not granted in time and were taken lightly. This carelessness led to another suicide in a month’s time.
Director V Kamakoti justified the delay in the facilities, “In the last three suicides we find that lessened social interactions following the Covid-19 pandemic is also a problem for them. After Covid, a lot of them have depression, and we have been giving them counseling. We have a plan, but implementation is taking time, and by then, unfortunately, this suicide has happened. In a campus of 12,000 students, we will know if they are stressed or depressed only when they come out and socialize.”
It is unfortunate that the Director has washed his hands off the responsibility of providing the students with a stress-free environment of learning. This is the reason why many students are not able to approach the faculties and management for help.
Judging and constant commentary by professors and peers ultimately lead to such drastic consequences.
After the death of Pushpak, the college issued a statement that a newly formed Internal Inquiry Committee will look into all these incidents. This inquiry committee will also have elected student representatives.
It is sad to see the education system ruining and destroying students’ lives. This system gives unlimited power to the people running the institutions and sets practically unbeatable high standards.
Only a few are able to cope with the pressure, and the rest fear getting a tag of failure and hence end their lives. It is time that the system and society are inclusive of everyone, and do not let any student become a failure.
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