A private budget school owner in Sakoli, a small city in Bhandara district of Maharashtra, died by suicide early in June. According to the Independent English Schools Association (IESA), the deceased Mahendra Manohar Meshram had slipped into depression due to lack of funds to repay the loan he had taken to build the school over six years ago. He was found hanging in the school on a Saturday afternoon. He had left behind a suicide note which stated he had decided to take this drastic step as he was unable to repay his loan to run his private school.
An IESA official said, “He had taken loans to build the school about six to seven years ago. In our district, many parents do not pay fees regularly. They pay some amount when we tell them that we won’t let their wards write exams. So even before the lockdown, we haven’t been receiving fees. As the government had issued the order stating that schools cannot compel parents to pay, parents got another reason not to pay fees. He slipped into depression due to severe financial stress.”
Aged 34, Mahendra is survived by his parents, a brother and sister. “His marriage was scheduled to take place later in June. I had visited the family. They say he take his life because of the financial crisis,” he added.
In the wake of the Covid-19 induced mass closure of educational institutions and several state government circulars barring private school managements from collecting tuition fee arrears, an overwhelming majority of private unaided and budget private schools across the country are reeling under unprecedented financial crisis. The fees imbroglio has triggered across-the-board pay cuts and widespread unemployment for private school teachers in several states.
Mental Health/Suicide Helpline numbers
AASRA – 022-27546669 (2 pm to 10 pm on Monday to Friday and 10 am to 10 pm on Saturday and Sunday)
iCall – 091529 87821 (10 am to 8 pm from Monday to Saturday)
Fortis Stress Helpline – +9183768 04102 (24/7)
Cooj Mental Health Foundation – +832 2252525 (1 pm to 7 pm from Monday to Friday)
Sneha Foundation – 044-24640050 (10 am to 2 pm through the week; the helpline will be available 24/7 after lockdown is lifted in Chennai)
Lifeline Foundation – 033-40447437; 9088030303 (10 am to 6 pm every day)
Samaritans Mumbai – +91 84229 84528 / +91 84229 84529 / +91 84229 84530 (5 pm to 8 pm from Monday to Saturday)
People Tree Maarga – 080-46659999 (10 am to 11 pm every day)