Over 16000 school and college students have committed suicide in the last three years, pointing to the stressful period childhood and youth have turned to be today. Life has become a mad race to reach the top and to conquer everything under the sun. From the moment a child is born till the day he/she breathes his/her last as an old wizened bespectacled person, one has to keep on running in search for money and fame.
But the exhaustion of running sometimes catches up on you and many a times runners drop out and are unable to complete the race. Similarly, the pressures of living a glamorous and successful life are so huge that sometimes the competitors themselves bow down. Children, especially teenagers and adolescents, are the ones who get crushed by this huge force coercing them to climb higher up the ladder and with every step the mounting fear of the height from the ground and the consequences of a resulting fall stress them out.
With the exam season going on and results around the corner, many children find it difficult to cope up with the demands raised by their parents or the standards set by their illustrious siblings. High expectations, a redundant education system and tough competition lead many children to opt out for the easier path — suicides. There isn’t a single day when the newspapers don’t report a student suicide.
Childhood and schooldays are days of fun and joy, not tuitions, dictations and tests alone. Those are the days when you hone your talents and discover your hidden strengths. You learn how to enjoy the small pleasures of life, like to play in the rain or watch the full moon shine bright in the sky, to laugh out loud and shed tears without fear or shyness — things which would later at a point in your hurried life give you relaxation and contentment. But today children run from one tuition centre for maths to another for physics to one for English and in between join tennis and badminton coaching and dance and piano classes — not because they are interested, but because their parents want them to. Nobody asks them want they want to do or what they would like to become or what they enjoy, but it’s just that my son has to beat Mr. Neighbour’s son in every test, every sport and every competition. And hence the poor child is just a puppet whom the parents use to improve their reputation and standing in the society, to show off as their trophy.
The education system too doesn’t allow the child to enjoy learning. It forces him to mug up a lot of equations and theorems and to give it all back in the answer sheets. A student who takes up arts or commerce is considered second to students who are studying science or engineering or medicine by the society. Education instead of being a joyful experience has turned into a fiercely competitive firewalk that stresses the students out into taking the ultimate step of quitting life.
A child should be taught to enjoy the marvels of the nature, to think and to be creative, to enjoy the plants and the animals and to be compassionate and caring towards other fellow beings. Learning should not be mugging up and there should be no pressure on the kid to be an engineer or a doctor or a scientist. A child excels on his or her own when he/she learns stuff that is enjoyable and interesting to him/her.
This rising spate of student suicides in India is a matter of great concern as this is an age group that we normally associate with potential and promise and look forward upon them as the future torch bearers of our nation. And our nation does need these children to excel in different and varied fields to reach greater heights. The loss of even one student life is not just a loss to his family or friends alone but also a great loss to the nation.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.