The death of 5 youngsters over the fear of failure has sent shockwaves across Tamil Nadu. Even as National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET) began on September 13 across the country, the state continued to receive grim news of aspirants dying by suicide. In addition to Jyothi Sri Durga from Madurai, two young aspirants from Dharmapuri and Namakkal districts too died by suicide on Saturday, sending shock waves across the state. So far, five NEET aspirants have died by suicide in Tamil Nadu in the past one month.
The deaths of 19-year-old Jyothi Sri Durga from Madurai, 20-year-old M Adithya from Dharmapuri and 21-year-old Motilal from Namakkal have drawn sharp reactions from people, with many rallying once again with demands to scrap the exam. Adithya had appeared for NEET exam last year but could not clear it. He had been preparing since then. His parents had gone to Salem to see the NEET centre where their son was to appear for the exam on Sunday, and upon their return found him dead.
The deaths have brought back the focus on NEET in the state, with several political parties but for the BJP opposing the qualifying exam. Many on Twitter expressed grief over the deaths and demanded that NEET be scrapped.
The news of Jyothi Sri Durga’s death, where the aspirant had left behind a note and a video explaining her fears, threw light on the immense pressures of the entrance examination. Jyothi’s final words from her letter, “I am sorry. I am tired,” moved many following which #IamTired trended on Twitter. While the young aspirant had already attempted the exam and had been scoring above 550 in mock tests this time, she expressed fears over disappointing her parents that led her to take the decision.
The deaths come days after another medical aspirant in Ariyalur in the state also allegedly died by suicide. 19-year-old Vignesh, who had already attempted the test twice, from Ariyalur took his life over fears of not being able to succeed in the exam this time. Earlier in August, 19-year-old R Subashri took her own life in Coimbatore district, afraid to write the upcoming entrance exam. Her death had come a day after the Supreme Court dismissed pleas seeking postponement of the exam.
This year, a total of 1,17,990 candidates have registered for the test in the state, which is a 12.4 percent decline from last time. Overall, in the country, enrolment dipped by five percent.
Opposition parties in the state led by the DMK slammed the BJP-led Centre over the NEET issue, even as the ruling AIADMK, also opposed to the exam, rued the deaths of the youngsters.
MK Stalin, Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, expressed shock over the suicides, but said killing oneself was not the solution. “We can realise from the death of Anitha to Jothisri Durga that NEET is severely affecting students,” he said in a tweet. “I repeat, suicide is not a solution; NEET is not an exam at all. #BanNeet_SaveTNStudents,” he added.
In a separate statement, he appealed to students not to resort to such extreme steps, asserting that success has to be achieved through struggle. Training his guns on the Centre and the state government, he said: “the student community is falling prey to the fire called NEET fuelled by them.” Assuring his party’s support to the students on the issue, he said the DMK was prepared to take forward any legal or political struggle against NEET and it will be scrapped in the DMK rule, he said, in an apparent reference to the elections due next year.
Taking to Twitter, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami expressed grief over the incident and said students have many avenues to taste success and resorting to such extreme steps was distressing. “It is distressing to see students, the hope for the future, taking such steps,” he said. Condoling the girl’s death, he expressed his sympathies with the family.
In a tweet, Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam expressed grief over such incidents concerning the students, who he called the “pillars of the future.” “Students should learn to face any situation with guts and parents should aid them in this,” the deputy CM, also the AIADMK Coordinator, said.
Anitha from Ariyalur was the first NEET victim who died by suicide in 2017, despite having scored well in her Class XII exam. Anita’s death prompted the state political parties to mount an offensive against the Centre and demand for cancelling the exam