Students in distress can dial 103 for help.
The state government, in an attempt to curb the spate of student suicides, said the helpline that was for women and children will now be available to students too.
“This number will now be available for all students below the age of 21. Any student feeling any pressure due to exams or any other reason can call and we will have counsellors to help them,” Home Minister R.R. Patil said in the Legislative Council on Monday.
Eighty-six students committed suicide in Maharashtra between January and March 2010, mostly because of pressure to do well in their studies.
Twenty-two of these were from Mumbai, which had the highest suicide rate in the state.
Bajanjit Kaur (18), a medical college student, allegedly committed suicide at her Powai residence on January 4. Kaur had failed in three subjects.
A day later, Class 7 student, Sushant Patil, was found hanging in the toilet at his school in Dadar. He had failed in four papers.
Lokbharti Party’s member of Legislative Council, Kapil Patil, raised the issue in the Council on Monday, saying suicides were a “social problem”.
“We need to constitute a committee of experts, change our style of taking examinations, include a grading system, make counselling available in schools, and even set up a state plan to look at this problem,” said Kapil Patil.
Minister of State for School Education, Fauzia Khan, said a committee of experts, headed by leading child psychiatrist, Dr Anand Nadkarni, will be formed to examine the reasons behind suicides. The committee will prepare an action plan and monitor such cases.
“The committee will also include representatives from the Home, Health and Education departments along with teachers and parents,” Khan said.
The state has also approached the Tata Institute of Social Sciences to train teachers to counsel students.
“It will cost the state about Rs 75 lakh, which we are in the process of considering,” Khan said.
Khan said the state has already taken steps to ensure students are under less pressure of academics. Students from Class 8 to Class 10 have been given an option between Math and elementary Math from this academic year.
Khan said this would make things easier for students who do not want to pursue Math-related courses after Class 10.