Why KAIST students commit suicide?
A senior student at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) committed suicide in the early morning of April 17.
Outsiders of KAIST just saw the death as simply another suicide because four students and one professor took their own lives last year. But it was shocking news on campus because it came amid the school’s efforts to prevent suicide.
KAIST is well known as a top-notch higher learning institute with financial support from the government.
Not only was tuition free, but living expenses were available for those who met a certain level of study performance. But students who show a poor academic performance are required to pay various levels of tuition as a penalty. This system is blamed for forcing some students to kill themselves.
The suicide prevention program is just to help students cope with serious depression from study stress. The school started the program from the fall semester of last year. Despite this, another suicide took place.
I think that KAIST is partly responsible for the repeated suicides.
KAIST is an engineering-oriented university and its characteristics are well presented in the slogan, ''The delivery school of Nobel Prize winners.” More than 40 percent of students are promoted onto master and doctoral courses. KAIST has only few narrow career paths and lines up students along these pathways. Under the slogan, the school brands low-performing students as “losers”
All KAIST students might have devoted themselves to study when they attended middle and high school in order to go to KAIST, and they usually had no chance to experience failure or being a loser.
KAIST’s excessive pursuit of elitism has, in fact, led to the suicide of students who could not meet the school’s anticipation for higher achievement.
A viable solution is to help students avoid any conflict with the school’s achievement-oriented policy.
First of all, KAIST should allow students to choose among various academic options rather than trying to snatch Nobel prizes. And students also need to make efforts to survive the fiercer competition in the academic world. Students have to get used to failure since they cannot always be a winner in competitions.
Finally, students need to learn how to manage their own lives. KAIST should also help students find the true meaning of happiness, satisfaction and success on their own.
It’s time for school administrators, professors and students to make joint efforts to prevent suicide.
The writer is majoring in mathematical science at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.