Three suicides in three months at PAU put spotlight on students’ mental health

Published on Aug 10, 2022 02:32 AM IST

Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), a premier institute in agricultural research, has worryingly witnessed three suicides over the last three months.

A day after, a bright 22-year-old student, who was pursuing a master’s degree (MSc) in entomology, the study of insects, died by suicide after jumping into the Sidhwan Canal, the PAU Students’ Association (PAUSA) urged authorities to look into the suicides, and take steps to ensure students grappling with various stresses do not resort to the extreme step. (HT PHOTO)
A day after, a bright 22-year-old student, who was pursuing a master’s degree (MSc) in entomology, the study of insects, died by suicide after jumping into the Sidhwan Canal, the PAU Students’ Association (PAUSA) urged authorities to look into the suicides, and take steps to ensure students grappling with various stresses do not resort to the extreme step. (HT PHOTO)
ByMohit Khanna, Ludhiana

Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), a premier institute in agricultural research, has worryingly witnessed three suicides over the last three months.

Students’ ending their lives in a varsity that has, incidentally, been tasked with recommending policy changes to check farmers’ suicides has cast the spotlight on mental health facilities at educational institutions.

A day after, a bright 22-year-old student, who was pursuing a master’s degree (MSc) in entomology, the study of insects, died by suicide after jumping into the Sidhwan Canal, the PAU Students’ Association (PAUSA) urged authorities to look into the suicides, and take steps to ensure students grappling with various stresses do not resort to the extreme step.

“The loss of three brilliant students over the last three months is not just an irreparable loss for their families, but the state as well as they could have played an important role in its development,” said Babanpreet Singh, president, PAUSA.

Earlier, on May 7, a 20- year-old bachelor of technology student had ended her life in the university hostel, and on May 11, a research fellow had died by suicide in his rented accommodation. Director students’ welfare GS Buttar says the university has a robust mechanism to check suicidal tendencies among students. “Batches of 10 children have been designated an adviser each. Wardens and assistant wardens have been directed to pay attention to students’ issues and a meeting is held every Wednesday to discuss the same.”

“After two years of being home bound due to the pandemic, some students are struggling to acclimatise to hostel life. We are trying to put them at ease by organising cultural activities,” said Buttar. Meanwhile, state horticulture and food processing Minister Fauja Singh Sarari, who was visiting the varsity on Tuesday, said the institution could not be held at fault if a student were to commit suicide.

The case

The MSc student, found dead on August 8, was a resident of Rampura Phul. Her friends and teachers remembered her as a cheerful student, who was at the top of her class. One of her friends said the victim had been “depressed” for a few months as her parents were unwell and her family was facing a financial crisis. She had pursued BSc on a scholarship and had gone on to ace the masters’ entrance test.

Hostel 11 warden Dr Yogita said that on August 6 the victim had left the hostel early in the morning on her two-wheeler saying she was going for a morning walk. When she did not return, her friends tried to contact her, but she did not answer her phone. Later, her scooter was found abandoned near the canal in South City. The victim tutored students to meet her expenses. Her friends said her own studies had taken a hit due to tutoring and she had also visited a hospital to address her anxiety ahead of the exams.

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