Student suicide a silent crisis

Published : 09 Jun 2023 08:22 PM

In a devastating incident that shocked the community, a second-year student from the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi tragically took his own life on the 8th of June. In a poignant suicide note, the student expressed overwhelming feelings of loneliness that had consumed him. This unfortunate event highlights the urgent need for enhanced counseling services at the department and university levels, particularly considering the impact of the post-COVID-19 pandemic.

Loneliness has become an increasingly prevalent issue among students, exacerbated by the challenges brought on by the pandemic. As the world begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and life returns to a semblance of normalcy, it is crucial to recognize the lasting effects the crisis has had on students' well-being. The abrupt transition to online learning, social isolation, and the disruption of familiar routines have all contributed to increased stress, anxiety, and loneliness among students.

University life, typically characterized by vibrant social connections and shared experiences, was replaced by virtual classrooms and limited opportunities for face-to-face interaction. This shift might have left students grappling with a profound sense of loneliness, adversely affecting their mental health. The recent tragedy at the University of Rajshahi underscores the need for comprehensive counseling services that address the emotional well-being of students. While the university has counseling services, evaluating their effectiveness and ensuring they are adequately equipped to deal with the unique challenges students face today is imperative.

First and foremost, enhancing counseling services at the department level is essential. Each department should establish a dedicated counseling center staffed by qualified professionals trained in student mental health. This center would serve as a safe space for students to seek support, discuss their concerns, and receive guidance on coping strategies. If not possible due to inadequate budgetary allocation, the faculty members should voluntarily counsel students going through a traumatic situation. 

Furthermore, the university administration must take an active role in promoting mental health and well-being among students. Adequate funding and resources should be allocated to expand the existing counseling services, ensuring every student can access professional support. This can be achieved through partnerships with mental health organizations, hiring additional counselors, and organizing awareness campaigns to reduce mental health stigma.

The recent tragedy at the University 

of Rajshahi underscores the need for 

providing comprehensive counseling 

services that address the emotional 

well-being of students

Additionally, it is crucial to leverage technology to provide remote counseling services for students who may be hesitant to seek help in person. Virtual counseling sessions, online support groups, and self-help resources can all contribute to creating a more accessible and inclusive mental health support system.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated the challenges faced by students and the need for comprehensive counseling services. The prolonged isolation, economic hardships, and uncertainties surrounding the virus have created a perfect storm for mental health issues. Universities must acknowledge this unique situation and adapt their support systems accordingly.

Educational institutions need to foster a sense of community and connection among students. This can be achieved through social events, peer support programs, and mentorship initiatives. By creating opportunities for students to interact and engage with one another, universities can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.In addition to counseling services, universities should prioritize mental health education and awareness. Integrating mental health literacy into the curriculum can equip students with the knowledge and skills to recognize signs of distress in themselves and their peers. This proactive approach can help create a supportive environment that encourages early intervention and reduces the risk of tragic incidents. The loss of young life is a painful reminder of the urgency with which we must address mental health challenges among students. The University of Rajshahi, along with other educational institutions, must take this tragedy as a wake-up call and prioritize the well-being of its students. It is important to mention that this is not the only incident of suicide. Such incidents are taking place now and then in different circumstances. By strengthening counseling services, investing in mental health resources, and fostering a supportive community, we can ensure that no student suffers in silence and that every life is valued and protected.

Furthermore, the university administration must partner with mental health organizations and experts to develop comprehensive mental health programs. These programs should include workshops, seminars, and training sessions for faculty, staff, and students. Universities can create a culture of understanding and empathy by increasing mental health literacy and providing the necessary tools.

It is important to acknowledge that addressing student mental health is a collective responsibility involving the university and the government, parents, and society as a whole. The government should allocate sufficient resources to support mental health initiatives in educational institutions, ensuring they are accessible and sustainable.

Parents play a vital role in supporting their children's mental health. Open lines of communication and a supportive home environment can significantly affect a student's well-being. Families should be encouraged to discuss mental health, provide emotional support, and seek professional help. In our current environment, we witness a prevalent trend where parents pressure their children to achieve top grades. However, this approach burdens students with mental stress and hampers their overall learning experience. Parents must embrace a mindset that prioritizes the pursuit of knowledge over the sole pursuit of grades, allowing students to thrive in their studies truly.

Society significantly needs to combat the stigma associated with mental health. By promoting awareness and understanding, we can create an environment where seeking help for mental health concerns is seen as a sign of strength, not weakness. Community organizations, media outlets, and influential figures should all play a role in spreading this message of compassion and support.

The tragic suicide at the University of Rajshahi should serve as a turning point for our education system. It is a wake-up call to prioritize our students' mental health and well-being. Enhancing counseling services, promoting mental health literacy, and fostering a supportive environment are crucial steps in preventing such tragedies and ensuring that no student feels alone or without help.

In memory of the student who lost his life, let us collectively commit to creating a safer and more nurturing educational environment. Let us advocate for comprehensive counseling services at both the department and university levels, recognizing the impact of post-COVID-19 on student mental health. Together, we can build a future where every student's mental well-being is a top priority, and no one has to suffer in silence.

Dr. Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.