Having lost two individuals due to their untimely deaths, the 13th of July turned out to be a tragic day for the Institute. Dr. Maheshwari, a 34 year old postdoctoral fellow in Chemistry, had taken her own life at around 4PM that evening, whilst the demise of Vijayalakshmi, a professor’s wife also occurred on the same day. This is an objective report on the details of the former case, while we treat the latter as a private matter of the family concerned.
In a statement from the Director, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, it was mentioned that a faculty member’s wife passed away in the afternoon and a few hours later, in an unconnected incident, a postdoctoral scholar in Chemistry was found dead in her room in Sabarmathi hostel, apparently due to suicide. The scholar had done quite well academically in her one year postdoctoral period in terms of research, publishing papers, etc; and was only a week away from completing her term.
The civil authorities took custody of the room after the incident, and no further authoritative information was received from them. The family members of the scholar were informed immediately and they were here the same night. The Institute, he says, is extending, as it always does, all possible help to both the families as they attempt to come to grips with their loss.
The Dean of Students, Prof. Sivakumar M. Srinivasan, also extends his heartfelt condolences towards the families and adds that we must as an institute, strive to ensure that we create awareness of the vast support system available on campus, accessible to any and all members of its community whenever required.
Having spoken to the General Secretary of Sabarmathi hostel, Khavieya, we learnt that the victim had an altercation with a close friend and retired to her room, citing that she wanted to rest. Later at around 4:30PM, the friend went to her room, only to find it locked with nobody answering the door. She then approached the lady guard who then called the security office; upon breaking open the door, Dr. Maheshwari was found hanging.
People who knew her said that she was always a subdued person, and this led others to believe that she was nothing more than a quiet person. However, in hindsight they admit that they may have missed the red flags, as she was rarely seen smiling or laughing. They feel like she may have been depressed, although she didn’t seek professional help or confide in anyone. She was to receive her degree within a week from the incident. Having hailed from Pondicherry, she had gone home and returned to the Institute on the 1st of July. There was no note left behind.
The Hostel Affairs Secretary Kishore K.S agrees that spreading awareness on the counselling services available in the Institute is imperative, and has said that he will be working towards this. The Student’s General Secretary Purab Jain also reiterates this and in addition, urges everyone to reach out for help whenever necessary.
We feel it is necessary at this juncture to urge all students who need help, to reach out to Medall, a professional counselling service where one may rest assured that a binding confidentiality clause exists to ensure that nobody- neither fellow students nor professors or other authorities- knows you are seeking help. It also prevents any external party from gaining access to any information regarding your case. They can be reached directly at 9445418162, 9445418172 and 9445418312. They can also be met in person on the 2nd floor near the research carrels in the Central Library.
Further, MiTr has a system where academic grievances, social issues settlement, public health, addiction, etc are issues that are assigned to special teams trained to tackle them. Each of these units is represented by various categories of students. One may also reach out to their Saathi mentors, who will assist you in your personal problems if any, and help you through them by being your confidante and your guide. We would like to stress on the fact that silence is not the answer, and if you or anyone you know is facing any sort of issue, please do not hesitate to reach out to the above bodies and seek help for yourselves or the concerned person. In the midst of this grievous time, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to both the families.