Chennai-In a case of suspected suicide a student of IIT Madras was found dead near rail tracks in Andhra Pradesh, while travelling from Delhi to Chennai by train. The deceased, Paki Venkata Sai Abhiram was a third-year undergraduate student enrolled in the Mettalurgical and Materials Engineering Department’s B.Tech programme at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras . According to the sources the students, had left for Delhi on October 3rd and was returning back to the campus from a Delhi to Chennai train. The students in the campus were shocked to see a condolence message by Dean of Students which informed the student of his death, requesting privacy of the family of the departed student at the same time . “ The Institute expresses its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the deceased student. We request that everyone request the privacy of the family at this unfortunate moment" , read the mail.
Following the death , a condolence meeting was held in the Narmada Hostel on 10th October. ChintaBar, an independent student body also conducted a Condolence Meet.
Although the circumstances surrounding the death of the student, who belonged to Kotturpuram near Chennai, are shrouded in mystery, the rise in suicide cases on campus has lent credence to the possible suicide angle. Before this suspected case of suicide, there have been four such deaths on campus. Here is a timeline of cases that have rocked the IIT Madras campus:
February 13th: A day after Darshan Solanki, a student belonging to a scheduled caste, committed suicide in Mumbai, the first suicide case in the campus this year was reported at IIT Madras when Stephen Sunny, a 27-year-old research scholar from Maharashtra, committed suicide. The local police blamed the latest suicide at IIT-Madras on "personal" reasons of the deceased.
March 14th: Pushpak, a third-year B Tech student, was found hanging in his Alaknanda hostel room on campus.
March 31st: Sachin Kumar, a PhD scholar from West Bengal enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering department, died by suicide. Before committing suicide, Sachin had updated his Whatsapp status with a cryptic message, "I am sorry, not good enough."
April 20th: Kedar Suresh, a 20-year old student belonging to Madhya Pradesh enrolled in the Second- year of B.Tech Chemical Engineering was found hanging in his hostel room However, one needs to remember that what makes this case a bit different from the rest is that the student has not died within the campus.
The suicides of the students have seen a spurt on campus despite the fact that the Institute has taken several measures such as MITR, SAATHI, and a Wellness Community Centre on campus to alleviate the pressure on students. The students of the institute are also offered mental health counselling services through the 24-hour helpline 14416. The program is being run by the National Health Mission and the State Health Department and was announced in April.