Soundharya T, a student from Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district, allegedly took her own life over fear of failing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).

A photo of NEET aspirant Soundharya who died by suicide
news Death Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 13:07

Another death by suicide related to NEET has been reported in Tamil Nadu — third in the past five days — as 17-year-old student Soundharya T took her own life on Wednesday, September 15, three days after giving NEET. According to reports, Soundharya, a student from Thalaiyarampattu village near Katpadi in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district, allegedly took her own life over fear of failing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) which was held on Sunday, September 12. 

Soundharya, a student of Thottapalayam School, had secured 510 marks out of a total 600 in her Class 12 and had written the NEET from Kingston College of Engineering. According to reports, she had told her parents that she was scared that she would fail NEET. She reportedly had confided in her family and friends that she did not fare well in the exam. 

According to reports, Soundharya allegedly told her mother upon returning home after the exam that the paper had been tough and that she had been unable to perform well. She also appeared disturbed since the day of the exam. On the morning of September 15, her parents had left for work as usual and when her mother returned, she found Soundharya dead in her room. Her body has been sent for a post mortem to the Vellore Government Hospital and Medical College. Investigation is currently underway by the Katpadi DSP and Revenue Inspector. Soundharya’s parents are daily-wage earners belonging to an OBC community. 

Speaking to the media, Soundharya's distressed mother, Rukmai, said, "No other child in India should suffer what my child has, these thoughts shouldn't come in their minds. Ban this NEET first. Ban it." Her mother also said that she has three other daughters and that Soundharya was the only one she was able to give an education to. She added that she had promised her daughter that she would be able to bear the cost of the education through daily-wage work, but that she wanted her to be able to study.

This is the third incident in the past five days where a student in Tamil Nadu has taken their own life over NEET. On Monday, 17-year-old Kanimozhi, a student from Sathampadi village in Ariyalur district, ended her life. On Saturday, September 11, a day before NEET, 20-year-old Salem youth Dhanush died by suicide over fear of failing the exam the third time. 

Also read: NEET and the illusion of ‘merit’

Two days ago, the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a Bill against NEET, aiming to provide admission to undergraduate medical degree courses not through the centralised medical examination, but on the basis of Class 12 results. The statement of objects and reasons in the Bill stated that the panel set up by the Tamil Nadu government had shown that those who are most affected by this exam come for lower socio-economic backgrounds. 

Social groups affected the most were the students of Tamil medium, coming from rural backgrounds, students from government schools, those having parental income of less than Rs 2.5 lakh per annum, and the socially depressed and disadvantaged groups like the Most Backward Classes, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the Bill said. 

The Bill was moved in the Assembly based on the findings of the panel headed by retired judge AK Rajan. The panel comprising of educationalists’ and officials from state education department in the following months had studied in the impact of NEET among students of government schools in Tamil Nadu and its implications on the students of economically weaker backgrounds. The government said that the panel had concluded that if NEET continues for a few more years, the health system of Tamil Nadu will be very badly affected. “There may not be enough doctors to employ in Primary Health Centers (PHC) and Government Hospitals. Due to this, the rural and urban poor may not be able to join medical courses," the Bill's statement of objects and reasons said.

Read more about the Bill here: The legal standing of Tamil Nadu’s Bill against NEET and what lies ahead

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.   

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Karnataka

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Kerala

Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

Telangana

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 amd and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to inidviduals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those  undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726 

Click here for working helplines across India.

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