(Trigger Warning: Descriptions of suicide. If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness. You can reach out to local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs here.)
This video is part of The Quint's Special Project on the Kota crisis. Support us so we can bring you more such important stories.
Cameraperson: Athar Rather, Ribhu Chatterjee
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
29 students. 29 NEET & JEE aspirants. 29 precious lives lost.
What these students battled was more than just academic pressure, as they navigated through mental health, friendships, loneliness, living in a new city as a teenager still in school or just out of it.
What they also struggled with were relationships, pressure from parents, coaching institutes, the society, and trying to fulfill a dream that was sometimes not even their own.
Every year, Kota churns out doctors and engineers. But some students never make it out of the city.
For the last few months, The Quint through its consistent coverage on student suicides in Kota has tried to raise awareness about the problem as well as question the role of the coaching institutes, hostels and PGs, parents, the administration, and the society in pushing students to the brink.
As part of our coverage, we decided to read out excerpts from suicide letters left by young aspirants (names withheld to protect their identities) in the past few years to give an insight into what these students felt – and how they were wronged by the system.
‘Sorry, Happy Birthday Papa’: Last Words of a 17-Year-Old
A 17-year-old NEET aspirant from Uttar Pradesh, who died by suicide in Kota in August 2023, addressed his very last words to his parents:
"Sorry! Maine jo bhi kiya hai apni marzi se kiya hai. Toh please mere dosto or parents ko pareshan na kare. Happy birthday Papa! (Whatever I have done, was of my own will. Please don't trouble my friends or parents.)
An 18-year-old NEET aspirant from Uttar Pradesh, who died by suicide in December 2022, wrote that the pressure of NEET and trouble with a girl was too much for him and that it pushed him to take his life.
"Mai mentally bohot disturbed tha. Ek ladki ne bohot pareshan kiya. Mujhe itna disturb kar diya ki NEET ka mental pressure and iska pressure sab had se zyada ho gaya. (I was feeling mentally disturbed. A girl troubled me a lot. She disturbed me so much that the mental pressure of NEET and this got overwhelming.)"
‘Should Have Listened to You’
In September 2022, another 16-year-old NEET aspirant from Bihar died by suicide in Kota, after leaving behind a letter to his parents – profusely apologising to them for getting distracted and not focusing on studies.
"I am sorry mummy papa. Aap jaise maa baap sab ko mile jo hamesha saath de. Galti meri hi thi jo maine aapki baatein nahi maani aur cheezon ko apne dhang se karte raha. (I hope everyone gets parents like you who always support them. It was my fault to not have listened to you.)"
A 17-year-old IIT aspirant from Madhya Pradesh, who died by suicide in July 2022 after being in Kota for two months, too apologised to his parents, in a letter.
"Sorry mummy papa par mai kisi cheez ke layak nahi hu. Aapka beta bohot lada lekin haar gaya. Itne paise mujh par barbaad karne ke liye sorry. Lekin mera pyaar jhootha nahi tha. Ladke se hua tha lekin sacha tha ekdum. (Sorry mummy papa, but I am not worty of anything. Your son fought a lot but lost. Sorry for wasting so much money on me. But my love was not a lie. I fell for a boy, but it was true.)"
‘Will the HRD Do Something About Coaching Institutes?’: A 17-Year-Old’s Final Words After Clearing JEE
An 18-year-old, who had been preparing for AIPMT in Kota, died by suicide in November 2015, saying it was guilt that pushed her to take her life.
"Hum kitna bhi padh le lekin hamara selection nahi hoga. Last year humne waste kia lekin is bar hum hardwork kar rahe the but phir bhi koi result nahi aaya isliye please hume maaf kar dijiyega. Hamari himmat nahi hogi aap logo se nazre milane ki isliye hum apni life khatam kar rahe hai. (No matter how much I do, I won't get selected. I wasted last year, but this year I worked hard and yet could not get a better result. Please forgive me. I won't be able to meet your eyes so I'm ending my life.)"
In April 2016, a 17-year-old from Ghaziabad, took her life after clearing JEE. Her last words were:
"I’ve started hating myself to the extent that I want to kill myself. My death will come as a surprise to most. Sorry dadaji but I, like your son, am not the engineer kind. I should have given SAT. I would have got something for sure. Everything would have worked out. Sorry for being weak and not showing courage but I am tired now, no strength left. All the noise in my head and the hatred in my heart, hatred for myself, is maddening. And, please will the government of India, HRD do something about these coaching institutes? They suck and should be shut down as soon as possible."