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Examining the Critical Role of Parents Behind the Suicide Epidemic in Kota, Rajasthan

The non-stop focus on competitive exams by coaching institutes and parents creates a culture of anxiety and depression, where students’ mental well-being is sacrificed in the name of academic achievement.

  

 

 

 

 

— Syed Ahmed Ali

Students preparing for competitive exams in coaching hubs, especially in Kota, Rajasthan, often face the tragic consequence of suicide when results are not in their favor. According to reports, approximately 15 students lost their lives to suicide in the past year, while around three lakh students are currently preparing for various competitive exams in institutes across the country.

Additional reports indicate that, following the tests, two students in Kota died by suicide, bringing the total to 24 deaths this year. The figures for previous years are as follows: 15 in 2022, 18 in 2019, 20 in 2018, seven in 2017, 17 in 2016, and 18 in 2015.

To understand and examine the critical role of parents behind the suicide epidemic in Kota, Rajasthan, we engaged in a dialogue with Dr. Roshan Mohiddin, National Secretary of SIO of India and a Research Scholar at the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal, Haryana, alongside B.Tech RCOEM student Khan Hanzala Areeb and Maimoona Bushra J, Research Scholar, Assistant Professor, Department of Home Science (Interior Design & Decor), Shasun Jain College for Women, Chennai.

Dr. Roshan Mohiddin
National Secretary, SIO of India 
Research Scholar at the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal, Haryana
The potent mix of unrelenting academic demands, financial sacrifices, and parental expectations is exacting a toll on the mental well-being of students. Parents, confined by traditional expectations, struggle to empathize with the emotional turbulence of adolescence. When students reach out, seeking understanding for challenges or academic stress, their emotions are often dismissed instead of acknowledged.

As the divide between parents and their children widens, students feel isolated without the necessary support. Trapped in a high-pressure environment with no exit, some resort to drastic measures as a way out. The crucial bridge of communication between generations stands strained, leaving young minds grappling with the consequences of unaddressed emotional challenges.

Parents can play a vital role in alleviating the pressure on their children by adopting a more supportive and understanding approach. Instead of pushing for academic perfection, they should focus on nurturing their child’s individual strengths and interests. Encouraging open communication about stress and failures helps build resilience.

Parents can actively engage in their child’s career exploration, providing guidance without imposing their preferences. Creating an environment where mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities fosters a positive mindset. Recognizing and appreciating diverse talents, not just academic achievements, contributes to a well-rounded perspective on success.

In essence, the role of parents should evolve from being strict taskmasters to becoming empathetic mentors, understanding that success is a multifaceted concept that goes beyond grades and conventional career paths. This shift can significantly contribute to reducing the stress and mental health challenges faced by students.

Khan Hanzala Areeb
B.Tech RCOEM 
BS in Data Science and Applications from IIT Madras
The recent Supreme Court judgment, which placed sole blame on parents for the rise in student suicides in Kota, was a far cry from reality. The coaching industry in Kota plays an equal role in this crisis, misleading students and their families with deceptive advertising. They often portray JEE and NEET as the only way to a bright future, preying on the aspirations of middle-class families.

Parents, driven by the promise of success and unrealistic expectations, invest large amounts in coaching and hostel fees, often paying upfront or in large instalments. This financial commitment traps students in a cycle of stress and hardship, making it difficult for them to escape from the coaching program even if they are struggling to cope.

Casual suicidal jokes between students are commonplace in Kota, reflecting a disturbing calm towards a serious issue. Recently, I read a study in which psychologist Dinesh Sharma, who completed a PhD on the issue of student suicide in Kota, pointed out some major reasons why students face sudden pressure and stress. One of the causes was ranking-based class changes, a very common practice in coaching institutes, creating an unhealthy competitive environment that leaves 90% of students feeling overwhelmed. The so-called ‘best teachers’ are reserved for the top batches, further widening the gap between the privileged few and the struggling majority.

The non-stop focus on competitive exams by coaching institutes and parents creates a culture of anxiety and depression, where students’ mental well-being is sacrificed in the name of academic achievement. Unrealistic expectations placed upon them by parents have pushed many students to the brink of hopelessness.

Parents also have an important role to play in protecting their children’s future. They must listen to their children’s aspirations rather than blindly following media advertisements. They should consistently reassure their children that there is a way out, that giving up is not a sign of weakness, and that there are other paths to success. Every student possesses unique strengths and talents that may flourish in fields beyond JEE and NEET.

Maimoona Bushra J
Research Scholar,
Assistant Professor, Department of Home Science, Shasun Jain College for Women, ChennaiUpbringing a child is a primary task of parents, who play a vital role in a child’s development, influencing their cognitive, social, and emotional growth, and shaping their holistic personality.

In Kota, numerous coaching institutes have emerged in recent decades, ranging from well-recognized and reputed institutions to mere namesake ones. The issue of suicides in Kota is complex, involving societal expectations, benchmarks set by coaching institutes, and academic stress.

Kota is just the tip of the iceberg in the sea of coaching institutes that have sprouted across the country. The culture of coaching classes, prevalent in these institutes, significantly contributes to the epidemic of suicides. This culture normalized over time, instills a perspective in the minds of both students and parents that success in competitive exams and enrollment in a good university are only achievable through training at a reputed institute.

This mindset needs to change as it places undue pressure on students. When students fail to meet the benchmarks set by these institutes, they experience depression and mental stress. It is crucial for parents and children to engage in open communication, understanding each other’s views and expectations, and fostering a balance between parental aspirations and the child’s career goals.

Implementing effective teaching methods in schools, and employing well-educated and experienced teachers, could negate the need for additional coaching classes. In the digital age, students have easy access to online resources for doubt clarification and free classes. Encouragement from close individuals, especially parents, plays a vital role in alleviating the mental burden on students.

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