High students' suicides across India gets government attention, Ministry sends manual on prevention steps

The Ministry of Human Resource Development has put together and circulated a manual to higher education institutions in India, asking them to take steps to prevent students from committing suicide.

Exam pressure and deadlines are major stress factors for students

The manual was distributed to colleges and universities across India about a month ago.

Some of the steps listed include early identification of a student's vulnerability, a buddy programme, and a double-blind helpline where both the caller and the counsellor are unaware of each other's identity.

Very hard to detect early signs of depression in students

According to a recent HRD Ministry report, over 26,000 students across schools and colleges in India, killed themselves in three years, between 2014 to 2016.

The manual has been prepared based on a detailed study done across the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) by IIT Kharagpur to understand the reasons that force students to take this step.

Some of the main reasons found are the pressure of examination and deadlines. It also found that students are happiest when they are with friends and have peer support. The study also said that it is hard to spot the early signs of depression in students and that only 4-5% of those who are troubled come for counselling.

Only 4-5% opt for major psychological counselling

The manual recommends a multi-level vulnerability assessment for early identification of depression, mental health assessment programme with orientation programmes at every year and level, a strength-based personality development, buddy system, and a healthy mix of students in classes, hostels, and the curriculum. The manual has talked about improving food, nutrition, hygiene, recreation, and the general infrastructure of the institute.

It also says that college administration should be sensitised and a 24X7 helpline system be set up in institutions.

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