Mesra cradle mulls suicide prevention steps

The suicide of a mechanical engineering student on the campus on Wednesday has set alarm bells ringing in BIT-Mesra.

Gaurav Upadhyay (24) hanged himself in his hostel room, becoming the fourth student to take his life in the engineering cradle in the last three years. For vice-chancellor P.K. Barhai, who assumed office at the deemed university just a fortnight ago, the task on hand was to provide an environment for students that would prevent any self-destructive tendencies.

Between September 2005 and April 2006, BIT-Mesra had witnessed four suicides. Before Gaurav, the last suicide was that of architecture student Arnab Mukherjee in November 2011. The latest incident has left both faculty and students in shock.

Said registrar S.S. Akthar: "It's shocking. He played tennis the evening before, happily had snacks and dinner at night and seemed completely normal. I spoke with many of his classmates and friends and all said he never displayed any suicidal tendencies."

Realising the gravity of the situation, Barhai is ready for the task ahead. "It's a negative phenomenon happening all around. I can't deny that BIT has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent times because of this and it really upsets me," he said.

He is candid enough to admit that counselling sessions have not really served the purpose in the past. "We tried counselling sessions, but they didn't work. It is because no one turns up for fear of being branded negatively. Also, hiring a permanent psychiatrist is not on the cards at present," he said.

According to the vice chancellor, the solution lies in mapping each and every student's behaviour, studies and family background. "Teachers will be assigned the job of surveying students with the help of a scientific questionnaire. A student is more likely to open up to teachers rather than to a psychologist. The questionnaires will be prepared with the help of professionals," Barhai said, adding that though it will be a time-consuming process, once implemented, it can work wonders.

Meanwhile, what prompted Gaurav to take his own life remains a mystery as the police are yet to crack the laptop code and get his phone details. "The post-mortem has been performed and his parents are expected to come today. It's a clear suicide but the reasons behind it are yet to be known as his financial position was good, he was an above average student and was popular in the university," said Shiv Gope, in-charge of BIT Mesra police station.

Mechanical engineering classes remained suspended on Thursday as a mark of respect and the mood at the hostel was sombre. Not many were willing to talk. Gaurav's close friend Atul Jha maintained that he was normal a day before. "He didn't come to class yesterday so went to inquire. But he was gone by then," he said.

PAST CASES

Nov. 5, 2011: Arnab Mukherjee, a final-year architecture student hangs himself

Feb. 24, 2009: Rahul Kumar, a second year mechanical engineering student found hanging from ceiling fan

Dec. 4, 2009: Abhay Prafull Minj, biotechnolgy student hangs himself

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