Context – The article discusses the high number of student suicides in Kota, India. It likens this
situation to a disease outbreak or a “suicide cluster.” The article emphasizes the necessity of
adopting a public health approach to address and prevent these suicides. This approach focuses
on specific responses such as monitoring, support, and prevention.
What are suicides and the cluster of suicides?
- Suicides are acts where individuals intentionally cause their own death.
- In Kota, India, there’s a notable rise in suicides, particularly among students preparing
for examinations, totaling 26 in 2023.
What is suicide Cluster?
- A cluster of suicides occurs when suicides, attempts, or self-harm events happen closer
in time and space than usually expected, forming a pattern.
- The situation in Kota is identified as a suicide cluster, specifically a point cluster,
occurring within a specific time and location, mainly related to the stress of examination
preparation in residential coaching centers.
- This phenomenon can lead to contagion, where one person’s suicide can trigger suicidal
ideation or attempts in others who are already vulnerable.
- Such clusters call for a public health approach, including surveillance, information
sharing, media regulation, bereavement support, and prevention strategies.
What initiatives has the Indian government taken to tackle suicides?
- National Suicide Prevention Strategy (NSPS): India introduced the NSPS, aiming to
decrease suicides by 10% by 2030.
- Suicide Surveillance Systems: A key target of NSPS is to establish effective suicide
surveillance systems within the next three years.
- Mental Health Outpatient Clinics: Another goal under the NSPS is to set up mental
health outpatient clinics providing suicide prevention services. This will be achieved
under the District Mental Health Programme and is slated for completion within five
- Helplines in Various States: States such as Telangana, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,
and Tamil Nadu have launched helplines for suicide prevention, particularly during the
announcement of school leaving and entrance examination results.
What should be done?
- Implement a Response Plan: Develop and enforce a Suicide Cluster Response Plan
involving surveillance, consistent information sharing between agencies, and support for
those bereaved by suicide.
- Media Responsibility: Encourage media to report responsibly on suicides to prevent
- Focus on Prevention strategies to reduce the risk of further suicides need to be
- Regular Monitoring and Review: Assess the effectiveness of the response and adapt
strategies based on what has been learned.
- Adopt Successful Models: Consider adopting approaches like the Tomorrow Project in
Nottingham, UK, which has successfully halted suicide contagion through community
information, meetings, and clinical support.