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    Varsity mulls ways to prevent student suicides

    Two days after the suicide of a talented third-year Electronics and Communication Engineering student touched the city, the College of Engineering, Guindy is now putting in place measures to prevent a repeat of such incidents in the future, even as certain questions remain unanswered. Sources in Anna University said, S Manivannan, a bright boy who had worked his way up from being a labourer to aspiring for the IAS, was found hanging in his room by his friends on Tuesday evening. The police were informed immediately, and they allegedly recovered the cell phone of the boy along with liquor bottles from the room.

    While it is not usual for a third-year student to get a room all to himself in the hostel, police sources said that his room-mates had shifted to another room owing to his alleged alcohol problem. According to two professors at the CEG, who requested anonymity, the boy allegedly threw up several times in an inebriated state a few months ago, after which a change of room request was made by his room-mates. Digressing from the usual convention, where a change of room was done only in an extreme case, the two were sanctioned a new room immediately.

    Two important questions remain unanswered, however. First, if the police account is to be believed, despite the campus being a strict non-alcohol zone, how had the student been allowed to take liquor to his room? Was there no strict surveillance of alcohol consumption in the hostel despite rules clearly making it unlawful inside the campus?

    Second, why was the mother of the student not informed of his problem despite the fact that two of his room-mates had shifted citing this as the reason?

    “Surely, if the incidents were true, the warden should have informed his parents when it became this serious,” said one of the professors, adding that the boy could have been referred to a de-addiction centre if the situation was indeed that bad.

    A senior university official said that the boy had been pulled up last month, but he had reportedly pleaded with authorities not to complain to his mother. “He was let off with a warning,” he said.

    Officials said that several lessons have now been learnt from the incident: the failure of the prevalent student counselling set up is one such lesson. “We do have professional counsellors. But, students rarely avail their services voluntarily.” Therefore, the university was now planning to hold a training session for professors on how such counselling can be done. Fellow students would also be encouraged to report unusual behavior patterns in their classmates, he said.

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