Kota, a prominent coaching hub in Rajasthan, India, has witnessed its eighth student suicide in the past two months, shedding light on the immense pressure faced by young students preparing for competitive exams. The city is known for its coaching institutes that help students prepare for entrance exams like the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for engineering and the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medical colleges.
The recent tragic incident involved a minor girl from Uttar Pradesh who had moved to Kota for her exam preparations. This marks the 26th student suicide this year alone, reflecting the alarming rate at which young lives are being lost due to academic stress and other related factors.
In response to this crisis, three hostel associations in Kota have taken a proactive step by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Jai Minesh Tribal University. The objective of this collaboration is to provide professional training to hostel wardens and staff members. The training will cover areas such as mess management, psychological counseling, and behavioral guidance.
Kota Hostel Association President Naveen Mittal emphasized that Kota is home to around 3,500 hostels, accommodating over 2.5 lakh students annually. The sheer number of students coming to Kota for coaching makes it imperative to address their mental and emotional well-being.
The Jai Minesh Tribal University is set to design special Hostel Management certificate courses tailored to the unique needs of wardens and staff working in these hostels. These courses aim to equip them with the skills and knowledge required to identify signs of stress, depression, or emotional turmoil among students and provide timely support.
Apart from providing training, the administration in Kota has taken other measures to mitigate the crisis. One significant step has been the mandatory installation of anti-hanging devices in fans, reducing the risk of self-harm by students. This measure was encouraged by the Kota Hostel Association for years and was eventually mandated by the district administration in 2023.
Additionally, “anti-suicide nets” are being installed in balconies and lobbies of hostels to act as a physical barrier against extreme steps. The local police are also actively engaging with hostel wardens, mess workers, and tiffin service providers, urging them to participate in the “darwaze pe dastak” (knock on the door) campaign. This campaign encourages vigilant monitoring for signs of distress or unusual behavior among students.
The surge in student suicides in Kota is a pressing concern, prompting both the government and local organizations to prioritize the mental health and well-being of students. The professional training initiatives and safety measures are aimed at creating a supportive environment for young aspirants striving for academic success in a highly competitive landscape.