Kota Suicide Cases: How To Rally Around And Save A Child Who Sees Suicide As The Only Way Out
There is a need to reimagine the wellbeing of students.

Let’s work together to prevent student suicides. Mental health advocate Prakriti Poddar shares her thoughts on what parents, teachers, and campus administrators can do to help students cope with feelings of stress and loneliness.

In the wake of the rising number of suicides cases among NEET and JEE aspirants, many educational institutes in Kota recently implemented the installation of spring-loaded fans in all rooms of students. This year, so far, 22 suicide cases among young students have been reported from the coaching hub. Two students ended their lives on the same day on August 27, 2023. The previous year, 15 students killed themselves.

Reports suggest that over 13,000 students died by suicide in 2021 in India at the rate of more than 35 every day, a rise of 4.5% from the 12,526 deaths in 2020.

While the decision to install spring-loaded fans may be a good initiative to prevent student suicides, many experts have contested that this isn’t the full-proof solution for countering this issue. They expressed that such move can be taken as a temporary solution, while noting that students need a more guided approach and reassurance to combat the feelings of stress, loneliness, and pressure.

In an exclusive conversation with TheHealthSite, Prakriti Poddar, mental health advocate and Global Head, Mental Health and Wellbeing, RoundGlass Living App, talks about the factors driving suicide cases among young students and how to support them in these crucial years. Poddar, who is also a mother, underscores the importance of creating an open stream of communication with young adults.

Q. What are the main factors driving suicide cases among young students?

There are a lot of known social and interpersonal factors that lead students to take this extreme step. We are witnessing a significantly higher prevalence of mental health issues in adolescents because of reasons such as the fear of academic failure, parental pressure or neglect, bullying and a negative environment. At times, there’s a history of mental illness in the family, which is at play.

Q. Students need a more guided approach and reassurance to combat the feelings of stress, loneliness, and pressure. Please elaborate on this.

There is a need to reimagine the wellbeing of students. We need to shift the focus of their lives from academic performance to their wholistic growth. Parents, teachers, and campus administrators need to motivate students to embrace a 360-degree approach to life that includes academics, sports, extra-curricular activities, and time for fostering social connections.

Students can prioritize their mental wellbeing with help from authentic online resources (such as the RoundGlass Living app) that offer wellbeing guidance from some of the best teachers and experts. These experts can handhold students and initiate them on their individual wellbeing journeys using pathways such as meditation and mindfulness, yoga, breathwork and healthy eating.

More importantly, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders need to assure students that academic achievement and excellence are not the only yardstick to measure their abilities and skills. Parents need to convince children of their unconditional support and love and keep communication channels open by acknowledging children’s feelings and challenges instead of choosing to be critical. This approach can go a long way in helping students cope with feelings of stress and loneliness.

Q. How parents and teachers can help a child who sees suicide as the only way out.

I strongly believe that both parents and teachers must be sensitized to pick out signs of mental health distress in their children and seek timely medical help. Here are a few fundamental practices to follow while helping a student with mental health issues:

  • Open conversations: Parents and teachers must create a positive environment that fosters conversations and individuality and not comparisons.
  • Nurture collaboration: A major reason behind suicidal thoughts is the feeling of estrangement – not being able to connect with anyone. Parents and teachers need to give students a chance to open up and collaborate to create a sense of belonging.
  • Teach coping skills: Students today start experiencing life’s curveballs from a young age and there’s a pressing need to prepare them to deal with it. Teaching them coping skills, such as breathing techniques and self-care, can equip them to navigate adversities such as setbacks and failures.

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