Kota recorded average 3 suicides monthly in 2023; 20 incidents this year: Data
According to the data, 15 students died by suicide in Kota in 2022, 18 in 2019, while the figure was 20 in 2018, seven in 2017, 17 in 2016, and 18 in 2015
Rajasthan’s Kota recorded an average of three suicide incidents monthly in the first eight months of 2023, according to data from the district administration.
Kota is the hub for Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) aspirants across the country, generating an estimated annual revenue of ₹5,000 crore.
The toll of such incidents reached 20 on Thursday after a 17-year-old JEE aspirant allegedly died by suicide at Mahaveer Nagar, a week after another JEE aspirant was suspected of having died by suicide.
The data also revealed that the number is equal to the total number of student suicides in Kota in 2018– the highest in the last eight years, indicating the alarming situation of the country’s well-known coaching hub.
According to the data, 15 students died by suicide in Kota in 2022, 18 in 2019, while the figure was 20 in 2018, seven in 2017, 17 in 2016, and 18 in 2015.
According to the police, the recent alleged suicide was of a 16-year-old JEE aspirant, a native of Bihar who arrived in Kota for the engineering entrance preparation six months ago and was staying in hostel accommodation.
Students from all over the country flock to Kota after completing their 10th grade to enrol in residential test-prep institutes and schools, primarily for certification purposes.
These students primarily attend classes at the test-prep institutes to prepare for their Class 12 exams and crucial entrance examinations such as NEET and JEE. However, the demanding nature of their studies, coupled with being away from their families, can lead to significant stress for some students, officials familiar with the developments said.
Thursday’s incident was also reported within a week of the death of another Bihar-based JEE aspirant on August 4, a day after another Uttar Pradesh-based NEET aspirant was suspected of having suicide on August 3.
Police also noted that both of them arrived in the city only four months ago.
On July 17, another 17-year-old NEET student allegedly died by suicide in Kota’s Jawahar Nagar within a week of his arrival in the city while another JEE student also took the extreme step on July 8 after attending coaching classes for only two months.
Last June saw four student suicides in Kota, including two NEET students, who died within a span of 10 hours on June 27. Both of them arrived in the city only a couple of months back, said police.
“It is a new pattern being found after the pandemic, particularly this year, where the students arriving in the city only for a few months died by suicide. Though the reason is yet unknown to us, the pattern was pretty different before the covid pandemic,” said a senior police official, pointing out the span of students’ arrival in Kota.
He added, the students who put their effort to crack these exams over the years staying in Kota were usually seen to be taking such extreme steps once the exams are nearing or after the results. “...But it has now become a rare pattern for such incidents to take place barely in the last four months, which also accounted for 70% of the suicides in 2023,” said the official.
Explaining the reason behind the rise in suicide incidents, the principal psychiatrist of a recognised coaching centre in Kota, Dr Vinayak Pathak, said that is an emerging pattern majorly because of the growing attention deficit among the students due to spending more time on social media platforms.
“Overtly watching reels on social media reduced their patience level, following which their stress and anxiety get triggered more quickly, leading to such extreme steps,” Pathak said.
The manager (operations) of another well-known coaching institute in Kota which now houses around 10,000 students for JEE and NEET preparation, also reasoned the overuse of social media platforms, adding that numbers rapidly started rising since 2022.
“The coaching institutes resumed full-fledged offline classes from 2022, and the students taking admission here post-pandemic era are the ones who were stuck at home for two years which not only isolated them from the rest of the world but also made them oversensitive and social-media friendly.”
This has also led to a communication gap between the parents and the children, he added.
Now, as the coaching resumed and the students started pouring in, the new aspirants failed in handling Kota’s eternal environment of high competition, peer pressure, and societal pressure, he said.
“The students stay alone and due to a communication gap, they are unable to share their feeling with their family members, or friends. In this environment, they feel abandoned and are left with no option but only dying by suicide,” the professor added.
A surge in suicidal cases has prompted the Rajasthan government to consider a law to regulate private educational institutes – from schools to universities to test-prep specialists – and ease the academic pressure on students, especially those enrolled in private coaching centres or online tutorials.
Additionally, the state police department on June 22 also introduced a students’ cell, comprising an additional superintendent of police, three inspectors or sub-inspectors or assistant sub-inspectors and six constables, including female cops, who will hold regular interactions and keep a check on students across coaching centres.
(If you need support or know someone who does, please reach out to your nearest mental health specialist. Helplines: Aasra: 022 2754 6669; Sneha India Foundation: +914424640050 and Sanjivini: 011-24311918, Roshni Foundation (Secundrabad) Contact Nos: 040-66202001, 040-66202000, ONE LIFE: Contact No: 78930 78930, SEVA: Contact No: 09441778290)