An article about the real-life experiences of a suicide survivor that was to be published in IIT Madras' official student journal was censored and toned down because of 'concerns raised by faculty,' according to a report in the New Indian Express. The latest version of the piece, however, doesn't contain any such descriptor and only mentions it as having undergone "very minor edits."
It Is Always Darkest Before Dawn was published anonymously on The Fifth Estate (t5e), IIT-Madras’ official in-house student journal, on October 20. Barely two hours later--the New Indian Express said-- it was taken down following “concerns from several quarters." The sticky phrase "the IITs are a hotbed of depression," which appeared in the original version of the article had been edited out.
The article is significant coming on the back of two suicides in the college within a month. On the 20th, Rahul G Prasad, 22, a B.Tech student from Kerala’s Kollam district, was found hanging from his room in Ganga Hostel on the campus. No suicide note was found. On September 21, N Nagendra Kumar Reddy, another student who committed suicide, had also left behind no clues to the reasons for his suicide. There have been about 10 suicides in the last five years at IIT-M.
The anonymous write-up in t5e, the student magazine begins: “I am a student here at IIT Madras, one of the most reputed colleges in the country and even the world. Yet, for all the laurels the IITs have, there has been one particular problem that we’ve not been able to eliminate — student suicides."
The article describes how a bright, competent and outwardly-happy student inexplicably started to feel depressed, tried to commit suicide, then opened up to family and sought psychiatric help and is now finally "sane and happy" again.
Executive Editor of the magazine, Raghavi Rao Kodati told the New Indian Express that the article needed to be toned down.
“We usually run articles through our faculty guide. This was not done in this case initially. When it was published, we received a suggestion from our advisor saying this might not be the best time to run it. On second thought, we too agreed and took it down for two days. A few sentences in the article like ‘IIT is a hotbed of depression’, were felt to be a bit strong. There were a few others which we felt needed editing,” she explained.
The article that has gleaned 753 'shares' since publication has outraged some. One comment on the webzine read; “What message does this give to students of the institute? It was a well timed article and more of them should be out here. Why are we so hung up about not damaging the repute of the institute, instead of being hung up about not damaging the students? I am disgusted by the way everything is happening here.”
IIT-Madras’ Director Bhaskar Ramamurthi told Express that the administration had nothing to do with modifications in the article.