Suicide generated by stress

When I was in the third year of my MBBS course, I was posted to the Psychiatry ward for the first time. It was a curiously satisfying stint for me, probably because it was one of my interests during that period of my life. The recent death of a student of MIT, Manipal on 15th February, brought back a memory from my posting in the Psychiatry ward.

“How do you feel now?” the doctor asked.
“Weak and a bit dizzy,” Geeta replied.
“Geeta, what could be so horrible in your life that you decide not to live?”
Geeta H, a 14-year old 9th grade student, had awakened in the hospital emergency room.
The doctor told her that she had been in the hospital for about 18 hours in a coma from an overdose of barbiturates.
Geeta’s mother, Anjana, took her daughter to the hospital early in the morning when she tried desperately to wake her up. Anjana knew immediately something was wrong when Geeta did not respond.

Incidents such as this, are alarmingly widespread across India. Each year, more and more teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for the 15-19 age group.

Experts admit they have no simple answers for the epidemic of suicides, but nearly all point to the stresses and frustrations that youths experience during their teenage years. Some of the stresses and frustrations are peer pressure, grades, money, career goals, personal relationships, confusion and fear about the future and insecurity in the family.

In Geeta’s case, her parents were divorced. She had become extremely unhappy and felt that no one cared about her. Anjana, was never at home anymore to spend time with Geeta, she had to work to support the entire family now. Before attempting suicide, Geeta’s grades at school began to drop. She became very unsociable with other classmates and her two brothers and two sisters. She also lost interest in activities she once enjoyed. Geeta had shown signals of suicide by isolating herself from the world and by staying away from school. Whether Geeta talked about attempting suicide or not, it should be taken seriously.

Most people believe that a person who talks about taking their life are really not trying to commit suicide at all. In most cases, people who talk about suicide or try to commit suicide are not insane. They are very unhappy people but not insane.

Suicidal behavior is not inherited and not passed through the genes. Suicidal persons want to die, but at the same time they want to live. They wish two things at the same time. These wishes are a means of communications and they need someone to help them.

What can you do if you suspect someone you know is suicidal?

  1. Be alert to changes in their behavior. Behaviors such as feeling sad, loss of a sense of humor, breaking of friendships without a reason and increased tendency to cry.
  2. Talk openly with the person, even if you have to ask: “How do you plan to take your life?”
  3. Encourage the person to seek professional help. If the person does not want help, seek professional help for the person anyway.
  4. Find out which community resources can help a suicidal person. These may include a crisis hotline service, a crisis intervention center, a local suicide prevention center, a community-mental health program, a minister, a doctor, or even a school nurse or counselor.
  5. If a suicidal person says that he wants to kill himself and tells you not to tell anyone, get help immediately. Never keep it a secret among yourselves.

To many teenagers, suicide is the best answer to end their problems of frustrations and pressures. Where in fact, it is only a terrible tragedy that cheats them out of their future happiness.

The Manipal University Counseling center is is located on the I floor, Room No 104, building.  The Counselor is available with prior appointment. Tel No: 0820 – 2922903 / 2922035. The Centre provides total privacy to students who need guidance and counseling. All matters discussed are kept strictly confidential.


  1. i would like to point out that the teachers of our university can do a lot to cut down the suicide rate in our colleges..most of them seem to not know that out of a batch of 2500 students in a college there will be some who are having a hard time adjusting to the environment whether they show it or not..there are teachers who think that my dad being in the army translates to
    ‘let me call your dad and ask him if this is what they do in the army’..they may not know anything at all about how the army functions but
    this comment has been thrown at me so many times i cannot count it on my hands anymore…I was a merit student who did not face a lot of problems while dealing with teachers who seem to think that a student in an academic problem has no respect for anything whatsoever..but what’s appalling is the way NRI category students are stereotyped to be spoilt troublemakers who do not respect our ‘culture’…MIT profs in particular seem to be quite vocal about this..a friend of mine, an average student who barely spoke to anyone about his problems had an attendance issue.. instead of guiding him through the issue and encouraging him to do well in his other subjects, he was heartlessly humiliated in front of other teachers by his professor simply because he had spent most of his life in a different country and had an accent.. to the point where comments were made about the way his parents live their lives..he stood there crying unable to say anything to this group of professors who sat there drinking tea and laughing at him..they fail to understand that these students have no immediate family anywhere close by, no one to go to if they’re distressed and no one to understand how hard it may be to adjust to a different country, that too a place like manipal which can leave people shocked even after 4 years of college’s also quite disheartening how some of the older faculty members, with years of experience dealing with all kinds of students, seem to have no concern about what a student might be going through and blatantly threaten students telling them how they would “make sure you fail in my subject” or “lets see who lets you write the end sems”..some teachers go to the extent of saying really absurd things.. there is one statement which was just uncalled for that i remember a teacher saying to a classmate who had fallen asleep in class..after threatening to take him to disco and not giving him attendance for the semester, this is what he said, I quote – “you can go to the academic director, director, chancellor, vice chancellor, president of india or whoever you want and even they wont help you”…if the teacher, the first direct contact the student has to an adult, is the one making sure they hate their stay here, then how can a student expect someone else, who has no idea about them or what they’re going through, help them out. No matter how much counseling a student is given how does it help if he has to go back to class the next day to be treated like a their existence is inconsequential by their own teachers.. can something be done about this?.. could there be a system to report cases of verbal and mental abuse by professors?..if not, can a student feel safe about talking about a teacher to a higher authority without any fear of repercussion from the faculty member? we must remember that a major part of a student’s day is spent in class and threatening them with dire consequences for trivial issues is not something that is mature or smart..there are very few professors that can handle students in a positive way and who students can speak to about something beyond their may be hard to digest but many students push themselves over the edge because all hope has been taken away by the people they thought they could approach and open up to…

    • Dear Anon,
      Thanks for the insight. I could feel your anguish through your comment. I agree that some professors can be pretty heartless, But isn’t there any way the channels of communications can be opened with some of them? You are right in that no amount of counselling will help if the student doesn’t feel respected. I feel strongly about suicides. They have to be stopped at any cost.

      • sir,
        thank you for taking the time out to respond. I do believe that even ‘unapproachable’ or ‘heartless’ faculty members have a heart as we are all human at the end of the day. Perhaps a small workshop can be held for the faculty regarding how to effectively deal with students facing disciplinary and academic problems without belittling them or making them feel like it is the end of a happy and satisfying college experience. If not that, a professor assigned to each section/class(similar to the teacher guardian program for freshers) who does not teach that class would be of great help. A hour and a half after class can be assigned once a week for students to approach and talk to this professor if they need to. Most students just need to sit with an adult who would not judge them on the basis of their current academic or disciplinary standing and guide or motivate them to do better for themselves. Even if a few students feel stressed by their subject teachers, it can be very comforting to have a neutral adult discuss their issues for not more then 15mins per session. Most of the times an outlet for their thoughts and feelings is all someone in distress is looking for. IMO this may help reduce stress levels in most students to a large extent.

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