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Most Students In Kota Are Stressed, Over 1% Clinically Depressed: Government Survey

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Installing nets in hostels is among the measures that have been taken to prevent deaths by suicide.

Jaipur:

The vast majority of students in Kota are stressed and over 1% suffer from clinical depression. These worrying statistics have emerged from a survey conducted by the state government to find out the reasons behind the spate of deaths by suicide in the education hub, which have already touched a record high of 26 this year.

Over 2.5 lakh students prepare for entrance examinations in Kota, also known as India’s coaching factory, at any given point in time. Many of them flock to the city from various parts of the country, including small towns and even villages.

Medical teams visited hostels and paying-guest accommodations of students, especially those preparing for the hyper-competitive National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for entrance into medical colleges and engineering institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT).

The teams spoke to as many as 6,000 students and gave them a questionnaire with queries like:

  • Are you able to sleep well?
  • Do you feel unable to cope with the pressure of studies?
  • Do you feel stressed?
  • Are you able to enjoy a normal life like other children your age?

The results showed that 83 of the students were clinically depressed and a vast majority of the others said they were feeling stressed because of the cut-throat competition to gain admission in the country’s premier institutes.

Many of the students said they had come from far-off places and had no friends or family in Kota, and that was also a major reason for the stress they were feeling. Psychologists who have worked with students in the education hub agreed, and said that being placed in an alien environment at such a young age is very difficult, adding that the competition for limited seats only adds to the stress.

“There are two or three key reasons for the students being depressed. Some children come here right from Class 9 or 10. At such a young age, they don’t know how to cope with the intense competition. When they see other students doing better than them, they begin feeling that they don’t know anything. Having that feeling constantly makes some of them go into depression,” said Jagdish Soni, Chief Medical Health Officer, Kota.

Mr Soni, whose office carried out the survey, said the students who were found to be depressed are undergoing counselling and treatment, and efforts are being made to identify other students like them.

Officials said the government is taking steps to try and ease the students’ burden and coaching centres have also been asked to focus on their mental health and well-being.

Crushing Routine

These views were corroborated by String Reveals’s conversation with some students. They said it is very difficult to stay motivated given the punishing routine, the constant tests and the stress of not doing well in them.

“Many students like me come to Kota alone, leaving their family in their hometown. There is no one to talk to. We live in a 4X4-foot room and just keep shuttling between ‘home’ and class. That routine sometimes gets to you,” said Piyush, a student.

“If our timing goes even a little awry, it causes a lot of trouble and makes us nervous. If there’s a test coming up and you haven’t done well in the previous ones, it is very demotivating. It is hard to keep putting in the same kind of effort when you are not getting results,” said another student, Nayab Kamal.

Prevention Measures

In August, after the 23rd death by suicide, the district administration had asked all coaching institutes to suspend weekly and monthly tests, but they have now resumed.

The hostel association had also installed spring-loaded fans in the students’ rooms, as well as nets in the hostels to make them ‘suicide-proof’. Many social media users had mocked these measures and said that the focus should be on the mental health of the students instead.

Money Matters

This year, just one police control room in Kota received calls from at least 40 students, who said they were struggling and were considering ending their life.

Education experts said many coaching institutes make tall promises and fill up classrooms to gain revenue, without thinking whether the students are actually capable of cracking the competitive exams.