WHAT IS IT THAT WE AS INDIANS ARE COLLECTIVELY DOING WRONG?

She was a 17-yr old student at one of Kota’s coaching centers. She committed suicide on Apr 28, 2016 by jumping from a five-storey building. She killed herself a day after the JEE main results came out, which she cleared comfortably with 144 marks (cut-off being 100).

Here are some excerpts from her 5-page suicide note (pay special attention to bold words):

“It’s not because of bad scores in JEE Mains. I was expecting worse. It’s because I’ve started hating myself to the extent that I want to kill myself. All the noise in my head and the hatred in my heart, hatred for myself, is maddening.” “You manipulated me as a kid to like science… I took science to make you happy,” she wrote addressing her mother. She also warned her mother to not do “the manipulative stuff” with her younger sister, who is in class 11th.

She was not alone. There was Keshav Meena, the 17-yr old, who hanged himself at his hostel on May 10, 2016, for being under immense pressure of doing well in exams, but upset about his performance in the medical entrance exams. There was Shivdutt, who committed suicide Dec 22 last year, a mere 14-yr old, whose family had high expectations of him. His family and neighbors had already started calling him “doctor sahib.” And then here was 17-year old Suresh. His parents’ words can’t even justify the regret of having sent him to Kota. “It started with headache, fatigue and bed-wetting. He now suffers from blackouts, partial memory loss and occasional hallucinations,” his father said. Why Kota is so killing – Times of India

Seven students have committed suicide so far this year.The story just doesn’t end with suicides. There is more. There is a lot which requires psychiatric help, pills and alcohol to cope up with migraines, blood pressures and panic attacks, requiring months of therapy to restore them. “We can’t take it anymore. Our parents have told us to return home only after cracking IIT-JEE,” recounted two students from Punjab, to psychologist Dr. ML Agarwal in Jawaharnagar, Kota.

These chilling accounts are examples of the children who are raised in an environment with immense pressure to perform well, resulting in individuals prone to anxiety attacks, depression, stressed outlook towards life, and a general sense of their worth dependent on external measures of control. These are mere 17-yr olds who fail to cope up with pressures of life and require psychiatric help to overcome the wrongdoings of their parents.

This is what we Indians are collectively doing wrong.

Forcing children to opt for STEM subjects to prepare them for job market.
By instructing them this:

You can become anything you want to be as long as you study science.
Arts and Commerce are for average students. You must opt for science.
Guptaji’s son studied engineering and is now settled in US. You should start preparing for engineering entrance exams.
Instructing them this leads to a feeling of hopelessness.

Hopelessness If she can’t clear engineering entrance exams, she is bound to lead a life of un-fulfillment, she tells herself.

2. Putting all the emphasis in children’s life on report cards, awards, entrance exams.

By telling them this:

Nothing else matters if you score poorly on your report card. Not the poems you write or the drawings you make!
Look at your cousin. He’ll be going to IIT this year. Where will you go with these marks?
Nothing but the IIT.
Telling them this leads to a feeling of lost self-worth.

Lost self-worth Her lost self-worth can only be regained with clearing entrance exams, she makes herself believe.

3. Setting unrealistic goals with regards to a child’s ability.

By saying:

You lagged behind the top scorers. Now you’ll have to put in extra effort than the rest of them.
Such poor marks! Tomorrow onwards, no fun and play time for you. Only studies!
Besides, what else will you do? Engineering is your only option!
Saying this leads them to a state of misery, a withdrawal into their own world.

Misery If she even takes a break, she feels guilty.

4. Instilling the fear of letting parents down.

By mentioning this:

Son, how will we face others if we spent ~ Rs.1 lac on coaching and still you couldn’t make it?
Beta, we’ve done so much for you. Now it’s your turn to make us proud.
We’ve survived poorly so far. If only you clear these exams, we’ll be able to live a dignified life.
Mentioning this leads to the worst scenario possible.

Fear of letting parents down If she even laughs, the guilt kills her.

Next hits depression. It’s a ‘do-or-die’ situation now. If she can’t do it, she dies.

The purpose of this post isn’t to make our parents realize their wrongdoings. Doing so does nothing to change the past. We can only take learnings from what went by and improve our today. This is to educate your generation so they don’t repeat the mistakes of the last generation.

This is for you, folks. If you think there are parents/students or people who need to see this, you can share it verbally, or in written, or on social media pages. Or take learnings and talk to those you know, who live under pressure. And do your responsibility.