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Student Deaths a National Loss

Suicides of young students from marginalised and minority sections point to a national failure.


The roll call of dead students, those who have been forced to take their own lives, only seems to be growing. The individual cases of suicide may be different in terms of details, but two crucial factors remain largely similar. First, a majority of these students admitted in institutions of higher learning are from marginalised castes and religious minorities. Second, their complaints and distress were neglected by institutional authorities. Some of them have become familiar names after their suicides: Anil Meena, Rohith Vemula, Senthil Kumar, Payal Tadvi, and now Fathima Latheef on 9 November. But, the list runs into thousands. According to government statements, between 2014 and 2016, a total of 26,500 students died of suicide in the country. Each left behind traumatised family members and friends. Many would have struggled desperately to deal with the stress of inhuman competitive demands for higher percentages in examination results. That as a nation we are still unable to set up mechanisms and measures to deal with complaints and cries for help is shameful.

One of the institutions that must be pointed at for its failure to play a meaningful role in the prevention of such needless loss of lives is the media. Take, for example, the suicide by three Dalit female students of a homeopathy course in January 2016 in Tamil Nadu. All three had written many complaints not only to the college chairperson, but also state authorities about being “tortured” for excess fees and abysmal living and studying facilities. In the end, the three teenagers from poor homes decided that committing suicide was the only way that their and their fellow students’ voices would be heard.

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Updated On : 26th Nov, 2019


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