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Kota suicides are cause for alarm

According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, suicide by students accounted for 8 per cent of suicide cases in the country. Kota would have a high share of it.
Last Updated : 22 September 2023, 19:51 IST
Last Updated : 22 September 2023, 19:51 IST

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Kota, a small town in Rajasthan, has been known for the large number of coaching centres that prepare young students for the country’s most prestigious engineering, medical and other entrance tests. But it has also earned notoriety for the high number of cases of student suicide, depression and other mental health problems. The latest suicide was of a 16-year-old girl from UP who was preparing for NEET. It was the 26th case of suicide of a student in the town this year. There were 15 cases last year. The numbers have steadily risen over the years just as the number of students who take admission in the coaching centres have risen. According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, suicide by students accounted for 8 per cent of suicide cases in the country. Kota would have a high share of it. 

It is estimated that about 225,000 students study for entrance exams in Kota. Most of them are of a tender age and in the formative years of their life. They are weighed down by their own aspirations, expectations of their parents, peer pressure, the rigorous coaching methods in the institutions, and other issues. Many of them are from ordinary backgrounds in small and medium towns and their parents often take loans to support the children’s education. They are cut off from their families. The daily regimen is 14-15 hours of study, with no time for relaxation. Many are there because their parents sent them there. Poor performance and fear of failure put pressure on the young minds and lead them on to suicidal thoughts. Many suffer mental disorders. A study has shown that four out of 10 students in Kota suffered from depression and eight out of 10 had anxiety or stress-related problems. It has also been observed that many students who secure admission in coveted courses after going through such harsh and strenuous coaching are lacking in original thinking and find it difficult to have fruitful social lives. 

Steps have been taken in the past to address the problem. Guidelines have been issued from time to time to be followed by coaching school authorities and others. There have been efforts to educate parents and to counsel students. A committee appointed by the Rajasthan government last month has made recommendations, including an age bar for students, easier exit and fee refund policies, better training for teaching and hostel staff, etc. There has been talk of a law also. The lives and physical and mental health of students should be at the centre of any education and coaching system. This must be ensured in Kota and other places where such coaching schools flourish.

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Published 22 September 2023, 19:51 IST

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