A series of test grading errors has triggered the suicide of around two dozen Indian students in recent weeks. The 12th graders, having taken their final grade school exams, have received inaccurate results saying that they failed to attend the examination or that their answers were consistently wrong.
Suspicions were raised when students who had regularly received the highest testing scores in previous years and who had exemplary scholastic records were shown as failing abysmally on what is effectively a college entrance test.
In an area where collegiate entry is often viewed as a chance to raise a family out of poverty, and otherwise as a key social status event, the shattering of dreams was too much to bear, and the children took their own lives prior to the news breaking about the incorrect scoring and investigation.
One key reason why the numbers are uncertain is that the suicides are obscured by the large existing numbers of student suicides in India. As CNN reports in their story:
Thousands of Indian young people die by suicide every year, according to the National Crime Record Bureau. In 2015, they made up 6.7% of all suicides, totaling to almost 9,000 deaths. Some experts, parents and officials blame the pressure to succeed in school.
This intense feeling of pressure is not restricted to students or India. We see it in America as well. It is a constant presence in most of our lives.
The story of Spider-Man has injected a phrase into the culture: “With great power comes great responsibility.” It’s not true. With life, independent of power, comes great responsibility. As we engage with those around us, we recognize needs and we move to address them. We grow, we find our places as adults in a society, and we strive to fill those roles properly while simultaneously seeking individual fulfillment.
Whenever an obstacle gets in our way, it increases the pressure upon us.
There are times when we need to vent that pressure. It can be done in many ways. Among the best of them is success; little provides a sense of accomplishment like overcoming a difficult obstacle or winning a challenging fight. There are other ways, though. Raising morale by banding with others who are in the same fight. Humor. Faith. Taking a break from a conflict. Tackling a smaller problem in an effort to rebuild a sense of hope.
Stress may not be visible, but it is real. It clouds our thinking and damages our bodies, while at the same time motivating us toward achieving great things. The negative results aren’t simply suicide; they can also be as dramatic as strokes or heart attacks or as insidious as destruction of family ties.
It’s a balancing act. I want to thank everyone associated with TNB for helping me maintain that balance, and I want to urge everyone to keep a careful eye on the pressures of their own lives. Take those breaks, make those jokes, hold to your faith… and know that we intend to be here to help.