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Coming Back to Life

As a student begins his journey towards academia and life, he or she is determined to put their best foot forward. With dreams to achieve and aiming for the stars, these young minds can think of nothing but success. Ease of perfection seems like a natural consequence. However, the path to ultimate triumph is arduous and tiresome- a journey with numerous twists and turns.

 A graph showing that suicide rates are the highest amongst the age group 15-29.

Before venturing into the crux of the theme, it is important to understand the context. The focus group in consideration here is ‘students’, more specifically, teenage students. Being novice adults, they discover the joy of new-found independence in their lives, something that isn’t always as convivial as it should be. The word ‘independence’ sounds like a freeing and liberating prospect, yet these youngsters are clueless wanderers, which often makes this level of freedom a bane. Of course, independence is what one gets as soon as they enter the real world and the ownership of deeds never becomes more prominent – whether it is success or failure.

In this great race called life, falling behind happens quite often. This situation gets accentuated in case of the group which is being talked about. Our educational system has been designed to teach students everything about success, but nothing about ways to cope with failures. The contemporary education system fails to provide a chance of redemption. As a result, no one fancies being in the bottom half of the spectrum. The whole field of statistics runs on variation in attributes and numbers – so the bottom half does exist in any data set, and this includes the people on the negative side of the hierarchy of education. Teenage students also tend to handle their emotions in a turbulent manner, and consequently, even trivial issues become obstacles. This is when the coping abilities are put to test, and some may fail.

It is now that the Dementor’s Kiss works. A mixture of self-loathing, anxiety, and low self-esteem ensures that the person is mentally distressed. In many cases, this problem becomes deep-rooted with time, and develops into a mental illness. Grey matter now recedes, and masochism takes over, with pain, gloom, sadness, and darkness becoming constant allies. We, as a society, are failing our brethren. Mental health is laughed at, a depressed person is simply asked to ‘be happy’. Do wounds always need the validation of blood? There is simply no avenue for a person with a mental grievance to seek immediate help. Can’t we change that?

Our educational institutions are witnessing this mental unhealthiness more than ever today. In a time when countries and governments are adapting to the ‘Happiness Index’, youngsters here, in India, are falling into dark depression. There is an apparent and obvious disconnect between the institutions and the students. Issues escalate to such an extent wherein lives are lost – owing to a thought process gone drastically haywire.

There seems to be no accurate solution to this problem. According to general consensus, the solution to this problem is to increase communication. Constructive steps towards tackling this are being taken up by institutes. For instance, an Open House Discussion organized at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur was aimed at discussing the suicide committed by Nikhil Bhatia, a Mining Engineering student. Although the discussion did not reach fruition of any sort, the very fact that an official meeting was held between the faculty and the students is a positive move. Ex-MITians have also taken it upon themselves to solve this problem by introducing a 4-week course to build Mental resilience, called Calm India.

This may sound banal, but this needs to be communicated to anyone who may or may not read this – there is someone who does care, always. Maybe a little bit of empathy and some self-love would take all of us a long, long way.