This was released by Rajan Babu, Mayor of Kollam Corporation to the media.
Chennai: Fathima Latif, 18, a student in the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) in Chennai was found dead in her hostel room on Saturday. The student from Kollam in Kerala was pursuing her first year undergraduate course in the institute. The parents and family members of the student have requested a detailed enquiry into the reasons for the alleged suicide.
This is the fourth student suicide in the IITM campus. The continuing rise in increase in suicides in premier institutions has raised questions over mental health issues in the student community.
In Fathima’s case, the police department has reportedly raised doubts over the poor academic performance as a reason behind the student taking this extreme step.
A student from IITM, who did not wish to be named, told NewsClick: “The inmates of the student informed us that she was very upset with her performance in the assessment exams. She had also taken help from the counsellors from the campus to overcome the stress.”
However, no suicide note was recovered by the police.
Expressing dissatisfaction with counselling in the IITM, another student said: “No permanent counsellor has been appointed by the administration. The institute has outsourced the work and every other day a, new person comes to the campus. This does not help students under stress since they have to re-narrate their problems to a new person each time they feel like taking support. This defeats the very purpose of the counselling.”
The students also raised concerns over rising mental health issues and have demanded steps to curb any more such untoward incidents in the campus.
The mounting pressure of performance has often forced students studying even in premier academic institutes to lose hope.
Prince Gajendra Babu, an educationalist, told NewsClick: “The continuing suicides, particularly in higher education institutions, are a cause of concern for the society. The facilities available for students coming from diverse backgrounds, like rural or tribal villages, especially first-generation ones, should be considered while analysing the causes for such mishaps. What kind of attention does the education system provide to these students? This should be critically analysed at the earliest.”
The present system of marks has also increased the pressure to perform, he said. “In an institute like IIT, the inclusion of welfare measures for students from socially and economically backward conditions also need attention at this juncture”, Prince added.
The IITM campus has seen three other students’ suicides during the last one year, while an assistant professor, too, had resorted to this extreme move.
With the Union government moving away from funding public education, the plight of such students is set to further worsen.