(If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness and call these numbers of local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs.)
Pressure and high expectations from parents are pushing students preparing for competitive exams to take their own lives, a Supreme Court bench said on Monday, 20 November.
The bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Aniruddha Narayan Malpani, a Mumbai-based doctor, who was pleading the court to regulate coaching institutes in light of the increasing number of student suicides in Rajasthan’s Kota.
The court, however, told the petitioner,
“These are not easy things. Pressure from parents is behind all these incidents. More than the children, it is the parents who are putting pressure on them. How can the court pass directions in such a scenario?”
'The Number Of Deaths Could Be Much Higher'
Justice SVN Bhatti told the petitioner:
“Suicides are not happening because of the coaching institutes. They happen because the children cannot meet the expectations of their parents. The number of deaths could be much higher.”
Justice Khanna said, “Although, most of us will not want any coaching institute to be there, but look at the conditions of schools. There is intense competition and students have no other option but to go to these coaching institutes.”
The bench recommended that the petitioner approach the Rajasthan government or the Rajasthan High Court since it can’t pass any directions in this regard.
The Rajasthan government in September this year did pass a set of guidelines for coaching institutes to curb death by suicide among students.
These included directing coaching centres to give weekly holidays, keeping the rank of routine tests confidential, an easy exit policy, etc.
Following suit, the Centre’s Ministry of Education too issued draft guidelines called UMMEED on 3 October in a bid to address suicides among school students.
What Did the Petition Seek?
The petition, filed to seek regulation of coaching centres, stated:
“These profit-hungry coaching institutes, however, do not care about student well-being and are only focussed on minting money leading to the youth of India being pressurised enough to take their own lives.”
It also went on to say, “Student suicides is a grave human rights concern and the lackadaisical attitude of the Centre in enacting a law despite the rising number of suicides clearly reflects upon the State’s apathy towards protecting these young minds who are the future of our country and their constitutional right to live with dignity guaranteed under Article 21.”