Everyone recently celebrated World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September 2021 and the World Suicide Prevention week from 5th to 11th September 2021. However, within 5 days from the NEET exam on 13th and 14th September 2021, 3 students died of suicide in Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu Government has been trying tirelessly to scrap NEET from being the sole mandatory exam for gaining admissions in medical colleges in Tamil Nadu. The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test is a mandatory all-India entrance level examination for gaining admission in medical and dental colleges all over the country. In 2021, a total of 16.1 lakh students registered for the exam to compete for just 83,075 MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) seats, 26,949 BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) seats, 52,720 AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Neuropathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) seats and 603 BVSc (Bachelor of Veterinary Science) and AH (Animal Husbandry) seats for both government and private colleges. By comparing the number of students taking the exam and the number of seats available for admissions, one can easily judge the amount of pressure and constraint this rigorous exam puts on the students.
The Tamil Nadu Government conducted a survey all across the state to study the effect of the exam on students from the socially backward sections. This study, titled “Impact of NEET on medical admissions in Tamil Nadu”, was conducted by a panel headed by retired Justice A.K. Rajan. The 165-page report, submitted in July 2021, was made public by the Tamil Nadu Government on September 20, 2021. In the report, A. K. Rajan suggests 20 reasons and 2 routes cancel NEET. The reasons include non-inclusion of the 12th boards’ marks, encouragement to the extremely expensive private coaching centers, and lack of opportunities for rural, tribal, and oppressed students.
Along with these reasons, the mental and emotional impact of such a centralized exam has also been surfaced as well. Tamil Nadu itself has seen 3 suicide cases this year due to NEET.
● A few hours before the NEET exam, a 19-year-old male aspirant, son of a farm laborer, committed suicide in Salem district
● An 18-year-old female student killed herself in Ariyalur district in the fear of not clearing the exam
● A 17-year-old female NEET aspirant, daughter of daily wage workers, hanged herself in Vellore due to the fear of not performing well in the exam
● A 17-year-old girl student in Urpakkam, Chennai tried to kill herself three days after taking the NEET exam due to fear of not clearing the exam. She was rescued by the neighbors and she survived with 57% burns all over the body
Last year also, 5 students had died in the state before the NEET exam, which was supposed to take place amidst the covid-19 crisis.
This all-India exam has been a source of anxiety and fear for the students since it started in 2013. Medicine is a profession considered so noble and profitable that it is almost all Indian parents’ dream to see their children become doctors (or engineers, obviously). Many students undertake this exam to fulfill their parents’ wishes, while many seek this career option in hopes of helping their families financially and some do it willingly for the noble profession it is. In any of the mentioned ways, the students have to go through a sea of anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and stress.
First of all, the exam is taken by many students far greater than the seats available in medical colleges in the country. The seats for government colleges are even much lower. The majority of students cannot afford to take admissions in private colleges due to their sky-reaching expenses. Moreover, in a country like ours, getting a dental, ayurvedic, or homeopathic degree is stigmatized to be so base and contemptible by the society that students would prefer to put years after years in vain to get an MMBS seat in a good government medical college than to take up admission in these courses. Then again, the seats for these courses are not many. The high competition puts so much pressure on the aspirants that it affects their mental, emotional and psychological health to a very deep extent.
Many students sit in the exam for two or three consecutive years owing to the vast syllabus and the difficult standard of the exam. But taking a gap year is also considered to be taboo by our society. Students in gap year are said to be sitting back and being idle. They have to carry this additional burden of society along with the stress of the rigorous examination. God forbid, if they fail to clear the exam, the extent of guilt and grief is unbound. Plus, society already considers them a failure.
Thus, the exam as well as the society plays a major role in pestering the students to the extent that they find it much easier to end their lives than handle the torment. Whatever may be the result of the Tamil Nadu government’s appeal, one must already start thinking about the ways to make it easier on the students’ mental health. The center needs to facilitate more opportunities for students aspiring to study medicine. The number of college seats, as well as the cost of education, must be updated to suit the needs of the current population. Also, parents, relatives, and society need to stop propagating the idea of an exam being the sole important milestone in life. One must understand and remember that life does not stop due to an exam or any single failure. Exams are just a means to check our progress and are not to be taken so seriously that the importance of one’s own life seems to diminish.
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8 months ago by b23206
An instructive article for all neet aspirants..
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