In a move to bring down the rapidly increasing number of student suicide cases in the state, Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) has launched a state-wide suicide prevention campaign.
Gujarat government’s Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama launched the campaign on 5th October. An expert panel constituted by the department addressed all the government and private secondary and higher secondary schools across the state. The programme was recorded at the Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG) centre in Gandhinagar for live telecast.
The department has conducted two sessions until now on 5th and 13th October. These sessions where experts will address students and teachers and answer their queries will continue till the annual examinations which are scheduled to be help in March 2017.
The expert panel on 5th October session comprised of psychologists Dr Nischal Bhatt and Dr Kiran Shinglot, IPS officer Hasmukh Patel, who is director of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Ahmedabad, and Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) deputy chairman R R Thakkar. On 13th October a team of counselors, psychologists and paediatricians addressed the schools.
The counselling sessions discussed various issues like factors leading to suicide, misconceptions towards suicides, defensive factors, care after the incident, role of media and long-term policy for suicide prevention. The session on 13th October revealed a frightening fact that even children as young as 10-12 have suicidal thoughts.
Dr Kamlesh Parekh, one of the counsellors said, “The misconception that people of a particular age group commit suicide is wrong. During counselling sessions, it comes to the fore that now even children of 10-12 years admit that they want to commit suicide. Such thoughts have come to their minds not once, but frequently. The trigger points could be as small as not being allowed to have a mobile phone by their parents or not being taken to a particular vacation destination”.
In order the aid the students to get rid of stress and anxiety problems education department has launched a helpline and has urged various Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to be part of the campaign.
An official said that the grading and semester system which was introduced 5 years ago to relieve the students from pressure, on the contrary has proved to be ineffective.
“After five years, the state government realized that the semester system was doing more harm than good to students. Students had to simultaneously face examination-related stress twice a year, prepare for the examinations throughout the year and cope up with the pressure to clear entrance examination. So, they had to scrap it and get back to the old annual system,” said an official.