In a shocking revelation, the Central government disclosed that a staggering 35,950 students succumbed to the harrowing grip of suicide between 2019 and 2021. These numbers, brought to light in response to a query in the Lok Sabha, underscore a crisis that demands urgent attention and robust intervention.
Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Abbaiah Narayanaswamy, acknowledged the grim reality of the situation, revealing that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) documented a concerning escalation in student suicides. The figures soared from 10,335 in 2019 to 13,089 in 2021, reflecting a distressing trend that cannot be ignored.
One particularly unsettling aspect of this crisis is the lack of data on suicides among Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students due to social discrimination. Narayanaswamy’s admission that there is “no information” on this matter points to a critical gap in our understanding of the nuanced challenges faced by marginalised students.
In response to the pressing issue of social discrimination, the Minister highlighted the establishment of counselling cells and various mechanisms by the Department of Higher Education. These include SC/ST students’ cells, equal opportunity cells, students’ grievance cells, students’ grievance committees, and liaison officers in educational institutions nationwide.
While these initiatives are commendable, the gravity of the situation necessitates a more comprehensive and targeted approach. The Middle Class Hub calls for an urgent and intensified focus on the following key measures –
Inclusive Mental Health Programs
Implementing and promoting mental health programs that cater specifically to students, addressing the unique challenges they face in academic and social environments.
Cultural Sensitivity Training
Introduce mandatory cultural sensitivity training for educators and staff to create a nurturing and inclusive atmosphere, particularly for SC/ST students who may encounter social discrimination.
Data Collection and Analysis
Bridge the information gap by conducting thorough research into the reasons behind student suicides, with a particular emphasis on social discrimination. This will enable policymakers to formulate targeted interventions.
Foster open dialogues within educational institutions, encouraging students to speak out about their experiences and struggles. Creating a supportive community can alleviate the isolation that often precedes these tragic events.
Advocate for policy reforms that address the root causes of social discrimination, ensuring a fair and inclusive educational environment for all students, regardless of their background.
The alarming surge in student suicides is a wake-up call for society as a whole. The Middle Class Hub urges the government, educational institutions, and communities to join forces in a concerted effort to prevent further loss of young lives and create a more compassionate and equitable future for all students.