Ninety-eight students have died by suicide in higher education institutions in the last five years, the Centre told the Parliament on Wednesday. Minister of State for Education Subhas Sarkar gave the information in response to a question by Rajya Sabha MP V Sivadasan.

Sarkar said that 39 of the students who died were from the Indian Institutes of Technology, 25 each from National Institutes of Technology and central universities, four from Indian Institutes of Management, three from Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research and two from Indian Institutes of Information Technology.

The minister added that 20 cases of suicide were reported in 2023, 24 in 2022, seven each in 2021 and 2020, 19 in 2019, and 21 in 2018.

Further, citing the data from the National Crime Record Bureau, Sarkar said the reasons behind the deaths included professional problems, sense of isolation, abuse, violence, family problems and mental disorders.

The minister also said that to address the matter of mental illness, the government and the University Grants Commission have taken steps like issuing advisories, peer-assisted learning and the introduction of technical education in regional languages for students to ease academic stress

“The government initiative, named Manodarpan, covers a wide range of activities to provide psychological support to students, teachers and families for mental and emotional well-being during the Covid outbreak and beyond,” the minister said. “The ministry has also advised the institutions to make the system more robust that would include prevention, detection and remedial measures for addressing the possible cause of suicides.”

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Meanwhile, in a separate answer, Sarkar told Parliament that over 34,000 students have dropped out of higher education institutions since 2019. Of these, over 17,000 students were from Scheduled Caste (4,423), Scheduled Tribe (3,774) and Other Backward Class (8,602)categories.

Sarkar claimed that the drop outs were due to job offers in public sector enterprises and personal preference of students for better opportunities elsewhere.

“The drop out in undergraduate programmes is attributed to withdrawal due to wrong choices filled, poor performance and personal and medical reasons,” he added.