Suicides Among Students in Top Indian Higher Education Institutions: Causes and Government Initiatives

The union ministry of Education informed the Parliament on Wednesday that family, personal, and mental health concerns are among some of the causes of suicides among students at the nation’s top higher education institutions.

Subhas Sarkar, the minister of state for education, provided information on the number of suicide deaths in these institutions over the previous five years in response to a question from Congressman L. Hanumanthaiah in the Upper House regarding an increase in cases of suicide among students at prestigious educational institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), and Indian Institutes of Management (IIM).

The IITs and NITs have reported six suicide fatalities this year, according to government statistics. The statistics show no discernible trend: there were 16 suicide fatalities in 2022, seven in 2021, five in 2020, 16 in 2019, and 11 in 2018.

The government’s statistics come days after a Dalit student, age 18, committed suicide at IIT-Bombay, and his family claimed that he was subjected to caste-based harassment there. This has been refuted by the institute. Discrimination was not mentioned by the minister as one of the causes of suicides at the best institutions.

The minister stated that the institutions have taken a number of actions, such as offering courses in regional languages and peer-assisted learning.

“The Government of India initiative, named MANODARPAN, covers a wide range of activities to provide psychological support to students, teachers and families for mental and emotional well-being during the COVID outbreak and beyond. The ministry has also advised the institutions to make the system more robust that would include prevention, detection and remedial measures for addressing possible cause of suicides,” he added in his written response.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), according to the minister, has begun translating technical publications into the twelve officially recognised regional languages.

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