June 30, 2022

By Rehan Piracha

LAHORE: A student who jumped off a three-story faculty building at Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) on Wednesday was still in a critical condition in a public hospital a day after the incident sent shockwaves across the city and beyond.

The incident came as part of a series in which students have committed suicide or attempted to take their lives after succumbing to pressure by parents and teachers over getting good grades in examinations. In the face of a backlash on social media over such incidents, educational institutions have often clarified that they do not encourage teachers and examiners to exert undue pressure on students.

In the circumstances the news of yet another attempt by a student to extinguish her life was bound to generate some panic across campuses. However, even when details emerged that this latest instance may have been influenced by other factors, it raised serious questions about the mental health of Pakistanis, especially the country’s young population.

Media reports quoted the mother of the science student who attempted suicide as saying that she was apparently unhappy over her marriage solemnised a fortnight ago in Hasilpur tehsil of Rajanpur. The university had immediately set up an inquiry committee on the student’s suicide attempt.

In a statement issued on Thursday, June 30, the LCWU said the four-member committee found no evidence that the student’s thesis supervisor exerted pressure that could have led to her suicide attempt by jumping off the Faculty of Social Sciences building a day before.

Student is still in critical condition

The student was rushed to the Service Hospital where doctors said her condition was critical. She had broken a leg and sustained head injuries. A doctor at the Services Hospital told Voicepk.net that the girl was still unconscious and in a critical state following injuries to leg and head sustained in the fall. “I hope she will get better but it’s too early to say anything ( conclusively),” the doctor said.

According to the LCWU statement, the girl was a final semester student in the Department of Physics. She jumped from the third floor of Social Sciences Building at 11.25 am on June 29. She was immediately rushed to the hospital.

No evidence of pressure from student’s thesis supervisor: LCWU

The inquiry committee questioned the student’s thesis supervisor, adding that on the day of the incident the girl came to the university on her own accord and was not called there by staff there. “The student did not meet the supervisor on June 29,” the inquiry report said.

The supervisor told the committee members that the student had completed her thesis while she needed to add references only. “The last date for submission of theses is August 1, 2022,” the inquiry report said. No evidence of pressure from the supervisor was found, the inquiry committee report concluded. The inquiry committee submitted its report to the Vice-Chancellor, the LCWU statement said.

Family conflicts and relationship disputes top factors in suicides: Prof Dr Nazish Imran

“Family conflicts and relationship disputes emerged as top reasons behind adolescent suicides under the age of 18 years according to a recent study,” Prof Dr Nazish Imran, head of Department of Child and Family Psychiatry at King Edward Medical University, told Voicepk.net. The study was based on newspaper reports about adolescent suicides in 2019-20 and the reasons quoted behind such suicides, she explained.

Another big factor behind suicides quoted in the reports is that of parents opposing marriage with the spouse of choice of their children, she added. “Relationship breakups and economic stress came out as reasons behind such adolescent suicides,” Dr Nazish Imran said.

“The student found that those committing suicides faced the pressure of studies while some students feared failure in exams,” she pointed out. Academic reasons were a high-rated factor in suicides among young people in Pakistan, she added. Exposure to violence at home or elsewhere was also a contributing factors in adolescent suicides.

According to Prof Dr Nazish Imran, there was a need to initiate mental health counselling and awareness in educational institutions to reduce adolescent suicides. “There is a lot of social stigmas attached to mental illnesses so I believe any mental health screening has to be confidential,” she added. “Webinars and awareness campaigns on mental health will allow students to approach for help when they are in a state of depression and anxiety,” she pointed out.

Dr Nazish Imran emphasised that the foremost thing in reducing adolescent suicides was to raise mental health literacy among students so that they understand symptoms of anxiety and depression and reach out for help from family members and teachers. “We know that adolescents, who are having suicidal thoughts, get better when they find support,” she said.

Recently, citizens in Ghizar district of Gilgit-Baltistan had called for government intervention to reduce suicides there. The northern area region had witnessed over 200 suicides in the last five years.


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