Another IIT-M student ends life, 5th case this year

First year student of Master’s program in IIT-M ended her life after naming 3 persons, including a professor, in a note typed in her phone.

Fathima Lathif

On November 9, Fathima Lathif, reportedly a first-year student of Master’s in humanities and development studies (integrated) in IIT Madras, committed suicide by hanging herself. She hailed from Kollam in Kerala and was a class topper. Fathima left a suicide note in her phone in which she blamed a few faculty members of IIT Madras for her suicide. While names of some persons were mentioned, specific allegations against them were not mentioned in the suicide note that she left in her mobile phone.

It has not yet been ascertained what exactly prompted the IIT-M topper to take such a drastice step, her father Abdul Lathif is known to have said that the victim was being mentally harassed by some faculty members. Since Fathima belongs to the minority community, many have reached a conclusion that Fathima faced religious discrimination in the educational institute, some are estimating that she was bothered by her low internal marks, but it is incorrect to reach any kind of conclusions now unless any further evidence is gathered in the case by the police, as the same would be termed as conjecture.

The police had registered this case as a case of unnatural death, however, after having recovered certain “notes” from the mobile of the victim, the phone is now in the custody of the police for further investigation. The father of the victim has alleged harassment and has even approached the Chief Minister of the State to intervene.


The reports of the suicide sparked some protests by Students Federation of India (SFI) outside the campus of IIT-Madras and also prompted a hashtag on social media #JusticeForFathimaLatheef which was trending on Twitter. Many Twitter users have alleged that the first name mentioned by the victim in her suicide note is of a Professor, who is being termed as a Hindutva bigot.

Student Suicides in IITs

Reportedly, this is the fifth case of suicide in the IIT-M, this year and this has raised serious questions on the institution’s environment and lack of mental health support for the students. A look at the data from last decade, 52 suicides were reported across eight IITs in India and IIT-Madras tops the list with 14 suicides!

Students who get admission in one of the country’s most premier institutes like IIT-Madras, are meritorious and academically bright and at the same time remain under the pressure of maintaining the good performance. It remains the prerogative of the educational institute, especially one of such a high esteem, that a conducive environment is provided to its students who work hard to get good scores and to cope with the curriculum of the institute. An environment that is conducive to students who stay away from their family should be healthy, free from any kind of harassment, discrimination and one that stimulates their academic performance as well as their holistic growth and development.

It’s time the administration departments of such institutes do some introspection and focus on student’s mental health as one of the important priorities apart from academics.


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Class topper in all subjects but one, IIT-Madras student kills self

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26-year-old found dead, students allege delay, clash with police: Aligarh

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