Over 35,000 students died by suicide from 2019-21: Union minister

Minister tells Parliament there is no data on Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students who died by suicide owing to social discrimination

Representative image (photo: National Herald archives)
Representative image (photo: National Herald archives)

NH Political Bureau

More than 35,000 students in the country lost their lives to suicide between 2019 and 2021, the Union government told Parliament.

In response to a question in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing winter session of Parliament, Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment Abbaiah Narayanaswamy said the total reported cases of death by suicide rose to 35,000 according to data collected by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). However, there is no data on suicides owing to social discrimination in the country.

The inquiry specifically sought information on the number of suicides among Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) students owing to social discrimination.

"(There is) no information regarding the number of SC, ST students who committed suicide due to the social discrimination in the country," Narayanaswamy replied.

The data shows a concerning rise in student suicides over the three years, with the numbers escalating from 10,335 in 2019 to 12,526 in 2020 and reaching 13,089 in 2021.

Addressing measures taken to combat social discrimination, Narayanaswamy claimed the department of higher education has implemented counselling cells and various mechanisms, including SC/ST students' cells, equal opportunity cells, students' grievance cells, students' grievance committees, and has made provisions for the appointment of liaison officers in educational institutions nationwide.

Furthermore, he highlighted the existence of the Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act 1955, which penalises the enforcement of disabilities resulting from "untouchability", and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, aimed at preventing atrocities against members of SC and ST communities, including students.

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