Three students preparing for competitive exams in Rajasthan’s Kota allegedly died by suicide today. The boys were 16, 17 and 18.
Two of the students, Ankush and Ujjwal, were friends from Bihar and were staying in rooms next to each other. One was preparing for his engineering college entrance, while the other was studying to crack the medical college entrance tests. No suicide notes have been found yet.
The third student, Pranav, came to Kota from Madhya Pradesh, and was preparing for National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Undergraduate) or NEET — a pre-medical entrance test.
Kota, the hub of private coaching centres that provide preparatory classes for competitive engineering and medical examinations, has seen an alarming number of deaths by suicide over the past few years. The deaths highlight the extreme pressure on young men and women to perform well and qualify for India’s best colleges.
Students, including many who prepare for these competitive exams alongside their final two years in school, often complain about high stress.
The coaching hub is notorious for pushing students over the edge with long class hours, long assignments, and very competitive internal tests which determine whether a student is promoted or demoted among the many “batches”. Top batches get the most sought-after teachers.
In response to widespread media scrutiny of Kota’s teen suicides and self-harm cases in the past, the administration had set up a suicide hotline where anxious students could seek counselling.
A student in 2016 had called for all coaching centres to be shuttered, before jumping to her death despite having cleared the highly coveted IIT-JEE exam.
In 2019, the Rajasthan government constituted a state-level committee to prepare a legislative draft for regulation of coaching centres to reduce stress among those studying at such institutes. There has been no public information on the draft yet.