Suicide or Silent Killing – aamjunta be-aware!

It was early in the morning, around 4.30am, Sunday 1st June, 2008. As usual, bought Sunday Times, Indian Express and Hindustan Times and took an auto to Kanjurmarg to catch the 5am local train. Sat on the bench in the platform and glanced through the headlines of all the three news papers. I was shocked, was mum for some time. The headlines reported a suicide at IIT Kanpur. Couldn’t believe my eyes. On the way, many things came into mind; “how can this happen again”?, “why is it getting repeated in IITs”?, “who is responsible for this”? I was disturbed the entire day, not only because of this tragic incident, but also because of the tragic memories of my Hostel-12 life that re-surfaced in my mind.

After coming back to IIT Bombay on the next day, we had a lot of discussion on this. Newspapers, electronic media, blogs became occupied with analysis, stories, effects, etc., on this sad issue. But, nowhere I could find the root cause of these suicides. No one was ready to accept their mistakes. Everybody was just passing the blame to some or the other. Authorities want to wash their hands off saying this is his/her (student) personal problem leading to depression. Students/ friends blame the authorities and the system. Parents blame the academic pressure. Media blames the system. Then… who is responsible?

Saying that, I remember the last year’s suicide case of our hostel. He was quite good as a student, a hard working guy. But, there was something wrong somewhere which we couldn’t find out. There was a student outrage at that time. Everybody blamed the system. Yes, there needs to be something done with the system, but I do not want to de-emphasize our duties. These are not only very unfortunate incidents, but also extremely shocking to all of us. When some thing happens, the mail boxes of IIT Bombay general gets flooded with emails showing concern and fear of such kind of events in the future. That shows, this incident has left a deep impression on our minds.

But, how far is it true in the real sense by limiting our concern to emails only? Last time when there was a condolence meeting in the institute level in the main building, unfortunately and disgracefully, only 3/4 research scholars (out of 8/10 students who attended) and 10/12 faculty members/staffs were the only people who attended the condolence meeting on the whole. The question arises, isn’t it a disrespect to the departed soul? Does our attitude show any kind of fraternity and unity as well as responsibility as IITians standing for a research scholar, whom not only we missed, but also his family and friends missed him for ever? How humane it is to demand for justice while neglect a condolence specially meant as a mourning for him? Out of 5000+ students, and 1200+ research scholars, it is even more shocking than his death, that only 8/10 students could make it convenient to attend the meeting. This increases my doubt about the fellow-feelingness and concern among the IITians in general.

Similarly, authorities cannot wash their hands off by banning Internet in the hostels or by creating mentor-ship program in the departments. This will not at all solve the problem. The counseling facilities is very poor in IITs. If you want to meet the Psychiatric Specialist in the hospital, you need permission and appointment. Do you think, any one who is going under some depression will tell others that he/she is in depression and wants an appointment? Then, how can he/she meet the doctor? Why can’t he meet the specialist directly, if he/she feels there is anything wrong. These are some of the concerns that authorities should look into.

Parents and family members also cannot wash their hands off by simply blaming the system or the authorities. They should keep an eye on their ward and should realize that by getting 10/10 or by getting a top job is not the end of the life. Competition is good, but they should encourage healthy competition. Parents should understand that life of their son/daughter is much more important than any 1st prize. The society needs a complete change in attitude in this. Everyone of us should realize the ugly side of competition and need to work for it. Getting a good college, or a good job or a good groom or bride is not the end of our life. It is just the starting point.

Whoever joins IIT either through JEE/GATE/CSIR/UGC/MHRD/QIP is no doubt academically very good. Might be the topper of his/her own school or college. But, IIT is so big as a system, one’s past glory fades in no time. You become a common student here like any other student. Everybody was a topper in some college or other, which is very hard to accept for a human being. Also, the peer pressure is so high, that you need to perform well in exams, in socials, in moodis and so on. During the placement season, it becomes unbearable. Everyone wants a job with the top salary. Unfortunately that does not happen with all of us. From the same batch some one might be getting 10/10 as CPI, but he may not get a job with the highest salary. Some one might crack on some research paper, but may not get a good placement, someone might be very smart, but may not be able to impress a girl or a boy. So…. is that the reason to end that some one’s life?

These are part and parcel of life at IIT. Stress and peer pressure will be there in any kind of field, be it in studies or in job. We need to learn how to cope with it. We should realize that without stress and rigorousness, we may not be able to perform well. Life is not just a game, where some one wins or looses, it is a journey to enjoy. All of us should realize this and should help each other during our difficult times. If we keep an eye on our friends, their activities, most of the problems can be solved. As friends we have more responsibilities than just going out eating and drinking. We can surely know what is going to happen and what is happening.

Don’t you think we all are responsible for these tragic incidents? If so, what do you say .. suicide or silent killing? — aamjunta be’aware!

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