Can’t make first? Opt for last

“Lucknow, April 3 (IANS) A class 11 student who twice failed in an examination committed suicide here Thursday, making it the third such incident in Lucknow in five days. Abhishek Tiwari, a student of the City Montessori Schools (CMS), hung himself from a ceiling fan in his home. He is believed to have been driven into the extreme act after failing twice in a science practical examination.

On Sunday, Priya Bose, a class 8 student of another branch of CMS, committed suicide after failing in her examinations.

Pinky, a class 12 student of the Lucknow Public School, also hung herself from a fan in her bedroom. According to the police, “The 17-year-old Pinky was a weak student and had not done well in her examination. Though the results were still far away, the fear of ridicule on failure led her to end her life.”

With the examination season on, psychologists

and psychiatrists in the city are getting scores of cases related to examination stress. In one case, a Class X student studying in a CBSE school slit her wrist on March 3

In another case, mother of an Intermediate first year student threatened her daughter that if she does not top her class, she will see her dead.”

….and that’s just a sample.

I was surprised my first few weeks in Chennai when I noticed all the suicides reported in the paper. My initial reaction was, “Wow, how is suicide in India so prevalent? Why are all these people so despressed?” but then I remembered that papers in the U.S. generally avoid reporting deaths as suicides for fear of copycats, so the suicide rate there may actually match up.

Still, over the last month these reports have been increasingly common, due to the CBSE exams class X students are taking right now. I said common, not admirable.

It’s startling to me the reasons for which people are willing to end their lives. I know there’s no right reason or wrong reason to turn to such drastic measures, and by no means am I belittling the troubles of these students. Times have changed, competition is fierce, and kids are so much smarter and more cutthroat today than before. I am a third party, and I suppose I can’t know what goes on in the minds of these students.

But I just feel Indians are so smart, so confident and hardworking, that it saddens me to read of student suicides in the paper, especially when I hear it’s because of exam stress.

So who’s to blame here? The teachers and parents for pressuring the students? The students for not studying hard enough or for crumbling under mere exam stress? Or the media for publicizing student suicides, thereby misleading students into thinking suicide is a common and viable alternative to dealing with exam stress?

Personally I feel it’s up to parents and students to build the student’s confidence. Teachers can help to an extent to allay exam worries or even mediate between parents and students, but ultimately, parents know the strengths of their children, and it’s up to them to encourage it, whether academically related or not.

School is important, but it’s not the only way a person can succeed. Sure, not getting the first rank, or even failing the board exams altogether may not get you onto the path you had expected. But choosing the last resort kills your chances altogether.

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