Every year in the months of May and June, we see smiling faces of those children and their guardians who either scored a high percentile in their board examination or cracked IIT, Medical or some other competitive examination. But at the same time, we hear heartbreaking news of students committing suicides because of failure in their board or competitive examination.
According to a WHO report, suicides rates are higher in persons aged 70 or above for both men and women in almost all regions of the world but the situation seems to be just the opposite in India.
Poor financial conditions, forced career choices, failure in examination combined with the feeling of low self-esteem has created a horrific situation of suicides rates in India. According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), every hour, one student commits suicide in India. In another shocking report, The Lancet stated that India has one of the world’s highest suicide rates for youth aged between 15 to 29 years.
In present times, qualifying exams like IIT, NEET or UPSC not only gives students a promising career but also increases the prestige of their family. Thus, students across the spectrum in our country have been forced to pursue certain disciplines rather than their own hobby or creative career choices, which, in turn, leads to students preparing for these examinations in cities like Kota, which are crowded with coaching centres. And failure to crack these examinations along with harsh words from their parents and relatives leads to depression and later suicides.
It is a situation for which the whole society along with government is to be blamed. A rotten education system which respects no talent and a youth-life overburdened by dreams of parents have made life hell for the youth of this country.
Apart from these, rising number of mental illnesses like depression has been met with apathy, with the government only spending 0.06% of its health budget on mental healthcare services. Currently, there are fewer than 5,000 psychiatrists and even fewer clinical psychologists – about 2,000 – in a country of more than 1.3 billion people.
The solution thus lies in parents, teachers, students, society and government all playing their active part in lowering the stress level and improving the mental well-being of the youth.
Parents need to encourage their children to pursue careers of their own choice rather than pressurising them to follow socially-approved paths. Teachers need to identify students facing mental stress and help them to find a way out. The society needs to create a healthy and cooperative environment for students. And the government needs to do more to address the problem of mental health and to reform our education system.
Above all students needs to understand that failures are a part of life. Qualifying competitive exams like IIT, NEET or UPSC are important for a good career and well-settled life but are not more important than life itself. One needs to adjust with failures and feel happy for what they have.
The famous lines from “Aal Izz Well” from “3 Idiots” comes to mind: “ Koi na jaane apna future kya hoga, to hont ghuma, seeti baja, seeti baja ke bol bhaiya aal izz well (No one knows what our future holds, so curl your lips, whistle and say brother all is well). ”