To curb student suicides, Indian Institute of Science, a premier university in India, begins removing ceiling fans

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, a premier educational and research institution has begun removing ceiling fans from hostel rooms, apparently aimed at preventing suicides.

The move comes after four students at the premier science institute died allegedly by suicide in their hostel rooms since March this year. There have been six cases of suicide on the campus in the last two years.

According to an internal email, written by students to the chairman of the Student’s Council, personnel who are working to remove the ceiling fans have told the students that “all rooms in all the hostels of the IISc will be covered in the next 15 days. They state that the move is in response to the recent student suicides in hostels.”

The IISc confirmed to ThePrint via email responses that ceiling fans were being removed from hostel rooms “to restrict access to any means of self-harm on the campus, which includes changing the current ceiling fans in hostel rooms”.

The institute further claimed that it was doing its utmost to promote the psychological well-being of the IISc community. “The measures that we have been taking are based on recommendations that have been made to us by mental health experts,” one of the emails added.

In the past, students had alleged that the institute didn’t pay attention to the mental health of the students who had to stay back at the hostel during the time of pandemic-induced lockdown. Bharathi Singh, Youth Counselor, CEO at Samudra Foundation, said,

“The alleged decision is an impulsive reaction on part of the management. The Institute should work on a grassroot or core reason on why students are committing suicide. The management through counsellors should address the anxiety issue, fear of failure or academic pressure including the personal issues since the students are staying away from home.”

Singh, who is also a campaigner working to prevent suicides in Bengaluru, said the Institute should focus on setting up a student counselling center and training the faculty to be empathetic to students. “Management should enroll counsellors who can regularly talk to students and available for the students where students can tackle their psychological and emotional issues,” Singh added.

While the institute set up a wellness center during the pandemic to address the mental health issues of students, the students claimed that it has not proved to be effective with just two consulting therapists, who are only available on the weekends.

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