Student suicides kill more people than poverty in India

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Arpita Singh-

As lakhs of students wait for examination result, there have been no counselling channels in most of the national and state examination boards for the students to deal with the pre-and post-examination stress.

If poverty kills one person aged below 18 in India, suicides kill 23 times more making it the biggest killer. According to National Crime Records Bureau; most victims are students who fail to cope up with the examination related stress.

In 2015, 1360 students have committed suicide due to failure in the examination. Experts say, in such an atmosphere, it becomes necessary for the examination boards across the states to hold regular counseling for students to deal with the stressful time of examination.

“Counseling is about stress management and students learn how to cope up with pressure from various sides,” Dr. Nisha Khanna, a leading psychologist in Delhi said

Based on the intelligence level, Khanna said, counselors can help students on how to prioritize the chapters.

“Counseling helps students to understand their potential and strengths so that student’s life can be balanced,” Khanna added.

Khanna believes, clarity of thought and action from the beginning is important in shaping in one’s future.

“Student’s need to have clarity that in which field they want to go, academics or sports and proper support is required from parents during this stressful time and counselor can also act as a bridge between the two,” Khanna said adding lack of counselors in schools is a major issue with our system.

For instance, Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations has not made it mandatory for its affiliated institutes to appoint counselors.

“We don’t have any specific staff for counseling of students, schools themselves take the initiative and it depends on their management to hold or not such counseling”, Mr. Sharma, administrator, Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations said.

Similarly, “Uttar Pradesh board does not have any channel through which it conducts counseling of the students”, a senior official with Board of High School and Intermediate Education Uttar Pradesh said.

On the other hand, Directorate of Education, Government of India provides counselors for students of Goa Board.  “We have appointed counselor to every school in Goa. One counselor has been given to three schools and they visit these schools twice a week”, Vasisastharam Balshekharan, administrator, Directorate of education, the government of India said.

Central Board of Secondary Education, however, started the practice of appointing counselors from 21 years; reports suggest suicides after the declaration of results witness an upward trend.

Deepak Kumar, professor with Jawaharlal Nehru University’s school of social science believes the problem starts with inadequate human resources in public schools.

“Government schools do not have sufficient teachers what to talk of counsellors.

Studies have shown quarter of schools have one or two teachers which at least should have ten teachers, we need to require enough teachers first,” Kumar said

Few private sectors appoint counsellors on regular basis, Kumar said, but we cannot expect this facility for 98% of schools.

“Government schools are in shambles because of less expenditure on education,” Kumar said adding as an immediate measure, general teachers should be trained to counsel the students and workshops should be held at school levels.”

India spends only 1.4% of its GDP on health. It is not only the education system that suffers from lack of mental health assistance but the country at large. According to a report of World health organization, the facility is 1 of just 43 government-funded mental health hospitals, which provide services for an estimated 70 million-plus people living with mental disorders. For every 1 million people, there are just 3 psychiatrists and even fewer psychologists.

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