On Monday, students and faculty at the SRM Institute of Science and Technology Kattankulathur campus (Kancheepuram district) woke up to devastating news. A 21-year-old student had killed himself in the campus. This was the third such incident inside the 250-acre campus in a span of 60 days, and all three students used the same method. While police sources say that the institute should have done more to avoid the deaths, faculty and some students tell TNM that this was not a case of institutional oversight.
Sree Raghav, a final year B.Tech student from Kanyakumari district, killed himself on Monday. The police are investigating the incident, but as per the first round of questioning, it has been understood that the victim had multiple arrears in his exam. In May, two students killed themselves inside the same Kattankulathur campus of the college, though different reasons were attributed to their suicides. The method that all three students used was the same, and all of them had accessed restricted areas of the campus.
(NOTE: TNM will not be revealing the method of suicide as mental health experts urge that such reporting may lead to more copycat suicides.)
A press statement from SRM Institute of Engineering and Technology expressed anguish over the incident and stated that as a policy, support and guidance is being offered by the college to students who are in need of counselling. However, speaking to TNM about Sree Raghav's suicide, a police officer at the Maraimalai Nagar station, in whose jurisdiction the college falls, said that the college should have been more careful in watching over its students.
"There have been two other suicides very recently in the same campus. The college should have installed preventive measures, and at least cordoned off restricted areas. But when our officers went for inquiry, they found that no such precautionary measures have been taken,” he said.
A professor at the college, however, told TNM that the institute had taken precautions, and the restricted area had been opened for some maintenance work only. The staff member, however, added that there is no clarity on how the students managed to access a restricted area in the previous two cases of suicides in the same campus.
A student of SRM said that students also get mailers frequently, telling them about counselling options available in case they need them. They also have a counsellor on campus, he said.
Psychological rehabilitation crucial
“People who are mentally disturbed or are in bereavement are vulnerable to copycat suicides. When they see others killing themselves, they tend to feel that it is the way out and follow them. Copycat suicides also happen among people who try it for fun and end up losing their lives,” explained Vandhana, a Chennai-based clinical psychologist.
She added that following suicide attempts, while families and friends focus on physical health of the person who has survived, they do not focus as much on emotional well being.
“So what happens when the trauma is raw is that the next time they get triggered and attempt to kill themselves, it ends in death,” she said.
Vandhana added that more suicide prevention helplines must be set up to address this issue in a holistic manner. Mass media must also do its part in preventing suicides, she added.
“Movies that give warning for alcohol and drugs, do not give similar warning for suicides. These warning one-liners don’t compensate for anything. We need to create more warning signs that are visible,” she said.
Making it clear that suicides do not happen in one day, Vandhana said that these build over a period of time and hence suicide prevention helplines must ideally double up and act as helplines which can aid people who need help to call and talk about their pain.
If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, consider reaching out to one of the following helplines:
State health department suicide helpline number - 104
Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050
Telangana government suicide prevention toll free number - 104
Roshni- 040-66202000, 66202001
SEVA- 09441778290, 040 - 27504682 (between 9 AM and 7 PM)
Sahai : 24-hour helpline numbers: 080- 65000111, 080-65000222
Maithri helpline - 0484-2540530
Chaithram helpline: 0484-2361161
Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.
Life Suicide Prevention Helpline No.78930-78930
Helpline 1: 9166202000
Helpline 2: 9127848584