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March 8, 2024

Tragic Loss: JEE Aspirant from Bihar Ends Life in Kota, Highlighting Stress Epidemic

In a heartbreaking incident, another young soul, Abhishek Kumar, a Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) aspirant from Bihar’s Bhagalpur, succumbed to the overwhelming pressure of competitive exams in Rajasthan’s Kota. This tragic event, marking the sixth suicide case of 2024, once again shines a harsh spotlight on the toll that academic stress is taking on students.

The distressing discovery was made when a suspected suicide note, bearing the words “Sorry papa, I cannot do JEE…”, was found in Kumar’s room. It was a poignant testament to the immense burden he was carrying, likely exacerbated by the demanding atmosphere of Kota, a renowned coaching hub where over 200,000 students flock annually in pursuit of their dreams of entering prestigious engineering and medical colleges.

Kumar’s untimely demise adds to the grim tally of suicides that has plagued Kota, with 26 aspirants tragically ending their lives last year alone. Despite the passage of only two months into 2024, the recurrence of such incidents underscores the urgent need for addressing the mental health crisis gripping the student community.

The gravity of the situation has prompted widespread concern among parents across India, prompting the Central government to intervene. In a bid to safeguard the well-being of students and alleviate the pressures they face, the Centre issued fresh guidelines in mid-January aimed at regulating coaching centers.

These guidelines include provisions to prevent coaching institutes from enrolling students below the age of 16, recognizing the vulnerability of younger students to academic stress. Moreover, concerted efforts have been made to cultivate an environment conducive to students’ mental and physical well-being, alongside safeguarding their financial interests.

One notable aspect of the guidelines is the prohibition of coaching institutions from imposing exorbitant fees or altering fee structures midway through courses, aiming to alleviate the financial strain on students and their families. This proactive measure seeks to ensure that education remains accessible without imposing undue financial burdens, further contributing to students’ overall welfare.

While these guidelines represent a step in the right direction, they underscore the systemic changes needed to address the root causes of academic stress and its devastating consequences. Beyond regulatory measures, there’s a pressing need for a holistic approach that prioritizes mental health support, personalized academic guidance, and nurturing environments that foster holistic growth rather than perpetuating a culture of relentless competition.

As we mourn the loss of promising young talents like Abhishek Kumar, let us also heed the urgent call to action to transform our education system into one that values the well-being of students above all else. Only then can we prevent further tragedies and ensure that every student has the opportunity to pursue their dreams without sacrificing their mental health and happiness in the process.

 

 

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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