The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet – Aristotle
Well, the sad reality today is that the fruit bearer does not even stay alive to reap its benefits!
Education has always been society’s prime concern and responsibility. Educational institutions like schools, colleges, and universities are expected to render knowledge to students, emphasize on their physical well-being, and prepare them for social-being. However, it’s very unfortunate that the entrepreneurs, leaders, businessmen, and teachers fail to understand the mental health issues of students and consider education space as a sheer opportunity to earn money and fill their pockets by enrolling them in their institutes and prepare them for rat-race.
Eventually, all this turmoil is taking a toll on students’ lives. Every other student in India is committing suicide every 55 minutes. This number is proliferating uncontrollably leaving behind everyone shocked and confused!
But why suicide you may ask!
The answer to this question lies in our faulty current education system. The undue importance given to marks and grades is the culprit of all these suicides. Our education system promotes rote learning and unhealthy competition. This way the education system is not giving humans to the society but unhealthy (physically and mentally disturbed) people who are always vulnerable.
The socially and economically weaker students are blowing out their poor parents’ treasure on parallel coaching classes. An education system which should have focused on developing a holistic personality of students is producing robots who are insensitive and inhuman to human suffering. And parents too, unmindful of what their children are going through, pressurize them further to achieve good scores and secure high paying jobs.
All that matters to the parents is the jobs of their children that fetch them good money and reputation which they can make a spectacle of in the society.
Nobody wants to look at the darker side and what all a student goes through! The constant flak from teachers, bullying from peers, family pressure, and a loss of a sense of a decent future is leaving students with only one alternative- Suicide! These scenarios force us to accept that youth suicides are prevailing ubiquitously, and its educational ecosystem who is to be blamed for!
A Glance At Statistical Data- Reality Check
As per the report issued by the government for suicide estimates during 2015, it can be clearly seen and concluded that every year close to 800 000 students take their lives and there are many more who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a calamity that affects families, communities, and the entire country and leaves long-lasting footprints on the people left behind.
The statistical information as per one of the other reports by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that more than 26,000 students have committed suicide over the past three years in India. A majority of students’ suicide is caused by the underlying psychiatric factors such as stress, depression, and anxiety.
It could be precipitated due to difficulty in coping with academics, unrealistic expectations, pressure from parents, and lack of support from peers. It is of utmost importance to diagnose the symptoms at an early stage and consult a counselor or mental health professional.
Suicide is a formidable public health problem, however, these are preventable with timely, evidence-based and often low-cost interventions.
Reasons that Force Students Commit Suicide:
Forced Career Choices
In India, as mentioned earlier, students breakdown due to the very high amount of pressure, especially from their family and teachers in terms of their career choices and studies.
Parents belonging to any financial group are stupefied about letting their child pursue any other course less than engineering or other conventional courses. Awareness might be there about new subjects but acceptability is still missing regarding the same. Arts is still considered as a poor cousin of science subjects, even though it offers plenty of interesting and even well-paying career options. Parents need to think out-of-the-box and understand that children have also their dreams which they should be allowed to fulfill.
Poor Education System
The pressure of securing seats in stellar institutes after their high cut-offs leads to students giving up and taking some step as serious as suicide.
It’s completely incomprehensible that why do parents and teachers put children in such do-or-die situation where they need to secure a minimum percentage to get into a halfway decent college?
It is also completely nonsensical to teach students those topics and things which they never might need in their lives. This is why the education system needs to be re-designed!
Not Speaking Up
In most of the suicide cases that take place, the causes remain unknown. This could be due to the victim not able to express his or her concerns comfortably even for one last time. Why did he or she choose to suffer in silence?
In most of the cases, victims find it really hard to freely express their concerns about the pressure they are dealing with, even with their parents.
To avoid such type of cases, it is advisable that parents should keep chit-chatting regularly with their kids and try to make them feel protected. In case if professional help is required, you should not hesitate in taking up that too.
Warning Signs – Red Alert
Students may not speak directly about their problems but as parents and teachers you may observe the behavioral changes in them like depression, mood swings, withdrawal, academic problems, feelings of hopefulness, disregard for personal appearance, increased substance use, increased risk-taking, and/or an obsession with death.
How Can You Prevent Students from Taking Such Drastic Steps?
Below are the preventive measures that can be taken to avoid such mishaps-
Let Students Decide for Them
A career choice is like a sink or swim situation for students’ life. Parents and teachers should understand that instead of pressurizing students due to society, peers, and personal motivation of the status; they should rather empower their children to take their own career decisions. They should be given a fair opportunity to analyze their capabilities, choices, and overall aspirations in order to boost their self-confidence and give them a sense of independence.
Stop Criticizing Them Always
Parents and teachers should collaboratively make efforts to understand the caliber and capabilities of their children. Pressurizing and blaming them for their poor performance in academics is only going to add on to their miseries. This will only make them suffer in silence and force them to feel lonely.
Put simply, be patient with them and try to understand what and why they are saying so. Appreciate them on even tiniest of efforts they make in anything and you will start seeing the difference!
Be an Active Participant in Their Lives- Be friends with them
Stay involved with your children as their friend as much as possible. Attend their sports events, performances, and other activities. Speak to teachers and faculty in case you sense weirdness in their behavior, or if their schoolwork is suffering, their grades are dropping or they quit clubs or organizations on campus.
Take Care of Their Well-being
Your task as a parent is to foster your teen or young adult to take time out for themselves, whether that means reading a good book, watching a movie, playing football, or taking a daily nap.
Send them or bring them their favorite healthy care packages to ensure that they are having nutritious and lip-smacking meals and snacks available.
Go for Counseling
Gone are those days when parents used to scold their kids for not obeying them and their decisions. In today’s modern world, children on just being scolded by their parents start crying and even take some serious actions sometimes.
To counteract this problem, parents should take their children to the counselor who can understand their psychological issues and disorders such as anxiety, depressed mood, anger, hopelessness, and feeling of isolation. Counselors can help in preventing the worsening of the situation and can, in fact, eliminate the problem. They also have various lucid tools and test to help students in finding their interests and what career should they pursue after 12 or which subjects they should opt after 10th.
Counseling can prove really helpful in calming students’ minds and relieving them from such surrounding disturbances.
The suicide numbers are increasing every other day. Students are experiencing hardships in the hope that sooner they will get help from their parents and teachers.
The government needs to take imperative actions before these numbers shoot up and lead to rising unemployment, further threatening the mental health of countless students across India. The unemployment issue will make them face a bleak future if they don’t secure a job upon graduation.
The Indian Education System needs to be revamped. Educating the minds of youth is important but educating their hearts is also equally important.
And if our country fails to provide quality education, the demographic dividend will become a demographic disaster. Especially in a country like India where frustrated and under-educated youth population becomes prey to the coaxing of terrorism, and drugs.
There are two types of education- one that teaches us how to make a living and the other that teaches us how to live. India needs to focus on both.
Students also need to understand that suicide is not the option to get rid of problems. Considering this, the state government of Delhi made the “happiness curriculum” mandatory last year in all the schools where they will have to emphasize on the mental health of students by conducting meditation classes, lessons on moral values and other mental exercises.
And yes, understand that life is not all about race, its a pace we need to maintain with reality!