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Get up! Pin the stress monster down

ANOTHER IIT student succumbed to stress and committed suicide. And that calls for a serious debate to find out a guard against the dangerous stress monster preying on strung out students one by one. Especially so when board results are round the corner. What really causes depressive fear? How best to deal with it? Should educational institutions have psychiatrists and spiritual teachers to help youth combat emotional disturbances before they wreak havoc?

india Updated: May 05, 2006 00:09 IST

ANOTHER IIT student succumbed to stress and committed suicide. And that calls for a serious debate to find out a guard against the dangerous stress monster preying on strung out students one by one.

Especially so when board results are round the corner.

What really causes depressive fear? How best to deal with it? Should educational institutions have psychiatrists and spiritual teachers to help youth combat emotional disturbances before they wreak havoc? HT Lucknow Live talked to select experts for their take on the issue.

Says Swami Muktinathananda, the president of Ramkrishna Math and Mission: “Students need to develop a positive attitude towards life and learn to trust their own potentialities. Do not take failure as defeat.”

But, how?

“Identify your inner strength to brush aside failure. Sooner or later dark days will disappear but for that person has to make a sincere effort on his own. A perfect combination of introspection and meditation will do wonders. A small little prayer can do wonders, as it tends to ease out the stress and keep the individual hale and hearty. Never lose faith in our immense potentialities,” he said.

Perhaps all religions disapprove human beings committing suicide. Says Naieemur Rehman Siddiqui, general secretary of the Ulema Council of India: “Suicide in Islam is deemed gunaah-e-kabeera, meaning the biggest of all crimes, to the extent that even praying for death in the face of crisis or illness is considered sinful.”

He elaborates, “It is mentioned in Hadith (sayings and deeds of the Prophet) Bukhari that anyone committing suicide will be condemned on the Judgement Day to be tormented for eternity with the same instrument or method employed for suicide. There is no place for frustration and it is the duty of every Muslim to tactfully counsel failed persons young or old to look ahead in life and try for better results in future.”

Fr Ronald D’Souza, secretary to Catholic Diocese says: “Getting poor marks definitely tastes bad but then one must build up his or her own self- confidence and take failure as a stepping stone to success. A little bit of positive thinking will do trick.” 

Peter Fanthome, principal of St Teresa’s Day School too feels that getting good marks alone does not mean that student will excel in life.

“I’ve seen a plenty of students who have done extremely well in the examinations but could not do well thereafter. And there are plenty of other students who were mediocre in schools but later on they made it big in life,” he says.

According to him, disappointments only tend to mount on you when there is no physical activity. So the best way to keep away negative feelings is by doing some physical exercise. Deep breathing also helps to ease out.

Dr Pallavi Bhatnagar of psychology department, LU believes that students must learn to accept the marks, which they obtain in the examinations. “But then they must remember that it is not an indicator of their capacity. Never look at your marks as some kind of prediction to your future as any event good or bad is not the end of the road.”

“Yes! Academic institutions must have spiritual instructors and psychiatrists to help students cop with cutthroat competition, his Everest-high ambitions and parents’ sky-high expectations—the factors which are an open invitation to the stress monster.

So watch out!

48 hours crucial: Docs

“IT’S ACUTE stress that provokes one to end life. This can happen to anyone including a high school student. The syndrome actually lasts from 48 hours to one week and if this stage is crossed, the child comes out of depression,” says Dr Malay Singh of Era Medical College.

The child needs to be explained the meaning of exams and results. It needs to be explained that exams are the testing measures for whatever is learned through the year but results are not actually the measurement of calibre.

If one does not secure good marks it does not mean he has not learned anything, says Dr Anil Nishchal of the department of psychiatry at KGMU.
“Even if the child says he has not done well in the exam, the parents should give him a comfortable environment. Parents should try to share the anxiety,” Dr Nishchal adds.

In fact, he says, expectations from the child should be kept as per his caliber. Exams are not a perfect system to test the child’s intelligence. The experts feel that psychotherapy and prior assessment of performance can save lives. The need is for child-parent counselling during and after exams so that self-injurious behaviour of the child can be restricted.

“There is no medicine for such children. Anti-depressants take at least a week’s time to show results and by that time even the syndrome gets over. So counselling in earlier stage is a better option than going for medicines or loosing the child’s life,” Dr Singh says.