Academic pressure driving up anxiety disorders, mental health issues
Hyderabad: On August 31, Rahul Binggumalla, a student of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad, was found hanging in his hostel room and the police investigation revealed that the second year M.Tech student killed himself due to placement and thesis pressure.
It was not an isolated incident, Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana and the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh have reported many such incidents in recent times.
Rahul's case highlights the pressure of studies at the educational institutions and how some students succumb to it.
A native of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh, Rahul wrote in the suicide note that the institute should not force students to complete the thesis. "If he is exhausted, he will do more research on suicide and ultimately his research will succeed. Because of this, I smoked and drank to come out of the pressure but I could not," he wrote in the note which police retrieved from his laptop.
In 2019, IIT-Hyderabad saw three suicides and in all the cases, students cited academic pressure, peer-pressure and depression as reasons for taking the extreme step.
M. Anirudh, a third-year mechanical and aerospace engineering student, ended his life in January.
Mark Andrew Charles, a second year masters student and a native of Varanasi district in Uttar Pradesh, hanged himself in July. He was depressed over poor academic performance. He wrote in the suicide that he felt the world does not treat well those who do not succeed in life.
Pichikala Siddharth, a third-year student of computer science, died by suicide in October. The 20-year-old jumped off the third floor of the hospital building. Before taking the extreme step, he sent emails to his friends stating that he lags in studies and is afraid of failure in making a career.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, known for several leading educational institutions and also best coaching centres to train students for country's top professional courses, account for a large number of students' suicides in the country.
Data collated from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that more than 3,600 students committed suicide in Telangana from 2014 to 2021.
Stress of study and peer pressure are stated to be the cause of a large number of suicides.
Charan Teja Koganti, consultant psychiatrist, KIMS Hospitals, Kondapur, told IANS that these days a lot of students are coming to him with anxiety disorders, depression and panic attacks due to academic pressure.
"Unfortunately, these cases are only increasing with each year. According to data by NRCB, nearly 12,526 students in India committed suicide between 2019-2021. This pressure is not just with academics but also often related to physical appearance, body image issues, cyberbullying, performance in extracurricular activities, social interactions, cultural standards, friendship or any romantic relationships," Charan Teja said.
He continued: "Today, students live in a super competitive world where everyone is trying to be perfect or excellent to achieve success in life. This adversely affects the ways students view success. Students who perform poorly in academics often receive harsh criticism and are subject to constant comparisons by family, teachers and friends.
"Parental pressure was once the main cause but since the pandemic I see a shift where parents are little relaxed about academics and are more concerned about the overall personality development of their children.
"But students have self-induced pressure and constantly compare themselves with their fellow students sometimes even with a stranger on social media. Also schools enrol students in way too many programmes at such an early age and it's difficult for some students to cope with."