Crime news is hardly a thing one likes to read in the morning. But the suicide of two young girls isn’t something you can miss. The two girls aged 17 and 19 killed themselves some weeks back due to exam fears. Though the two deaths are unrelated, the cause is scarily common; especially at this time of the year.
Over the last few years Bangalore has gained a dubious reputation of being the suicide capital of the country! One of the media reports quoting statistics available with the city’s crime bureau says that over 7840 cases of suicides were recorded in Bangalore between 2004 and 2008. That is about five suicides a day! The average age group was 15 to 35. While there are conflicting reports on the ratio of men and women in these statistics; an earlier NIMHANS report says that more women than men resort to suicides. And that the biggest factor is exam fear or fear of failure in exams.
Though increasing suicides are a deeply disturbing trend irrespective of gender; I would like to find answers to why more young women fear failure than men of the same age group?
What are the options a young girl has if she fails an exam? Let’s take the example of Divya, a 16 year old who failed her ninth standard exams. Her parents, both uneducated and daily wage workers, couldn’t support her further and decided she’ll go to work as a nanny in the neighbouring apartment complex. While Divya’s older brother, Karthik, in the same predicament, managed to write the exams twice before he finally cleared the papers in tenth standard.
The fear of failure isn’t restricted to lower income groups alone. In another case, Priyanjana, from a well to do family, had ambitions of doing an MBA from one of the IIMs; but failed to gain entrance. Her parents, instead of encouraging her to try again decided to marry her off. Both examples illustrate that there are very few options to get over the academic failures for a young girl. That is not to say young men have it any easier. Children are under pressure all through the schooling years to perform and failures are simply not acceptable, not even in surprise class tests!
There is definitely more awareness among parents today, about how fragile adolescent minds are and that they need to be careful. Then there are helplines such as SAHAI. But there is a larger issue here that needs to be addressed. What would you do to tackle this problem? This city has seen many changes in the past decade but is ‘suicide capital’ an acceptable label? ⊕