New Delhi: An 18-year-old student in Rajasthan’s Kota who was preparing for the Indian Institutes of Technology Joint Entrance Examination died by suicide on on Tuesday night. This is reportedly the 22nd such suicide in Kota in 2023 – and the fourth just in the month of August.
While several people have been pointing out the acute mental health crisis among students preparing for this competition exam (Kota is a hub for JEE training centres), the district administration has adopted a controversial approach to dealing with the problem – installing spring-loaded fans in all rooms “to provide students mental support and security”.
The student who died by suicide on Tuesday was Valmiki Jangid from Gaya, Bihar. He had been in Kota since last year studying for the JEE, India Today reported.
Announcing the decisions around fans, Kota district collector Om Prakash Bunkar said in an order, according to Hindustan Times, “To provide mental support and security to the students studying/living in them and to prevent suicides from increasing among coaching students in Kota city, all hostel/PG operators in the state are directed to install a security spring device in the fans at every room, as discussed in Saturday’s meeting.”
“Springs in these ceiling fans are designed to uncoil the moment it detects a load, effectively detaching the fan from the ceiling, and preventing hangings. The fans will also have installed sensors that sound an alarm in the event of an attempted suicide,” Hindustan Times reported.
In December 2022, the local administration had ordered all coaching institutes, hostels and paying-guest accommodations in Kota to have a weekly off for students, a maximum class strength of 80, and mandatory psychological evaluations for students and teachers.