In the past six years, more than 60 students have committed suicide in Kota, the coaching hub of India.
That's almost like one suicide every month.
Most deaths are triggered by study-related stress and burden of family expectations. And though no formal statistic confirms it, a cursory look at the cases show that a lot of students take the extreme step by hanging themselves from the ceiling fans of their hostel rooms.
The city administration recently decided to take it upon itself to address the stress levels. But it also turned its gaze to the other problem - the ceiling fans.
Can modifying ceiling fans prevent suicides?
Yes they can, and an electrical engineer Sharad Ashani has been doing it for years.
Ashani, a retired Crompton Greaves assistant general manager, has created a product which, when fitted to a ceiling fan, makes it suicide-proof. Which means that if one wants to hang oneself to death, the ceiling fan won't allow it.
It might sound improbable but it's not. Ashani holds a patent on his invention and claims over 500 successful trials of his product in the last decade.
And today, the first batch of these "anti-suicide" fan rods are being delivered to Kota hostels.
How does this "anti-suicide" fans rod works?
Ashani fitted a spring into the rod that supports the ceiling fan. When someone tried to hang self, the load exceeds the determined point and the "unlatching mechanism" in the rod is activated.
"This means that the road disengages from the fan and the person is deposited safely on the ground, Ashani told ScoopWhoop News.
Watch a demonstration here:
The product cost is a meagre Rs 250 and can be retrofitted into both new and old fans, Ashani said. In fact, Ashani wants his rod to replace the normal rods in every ceiling fan.
Watch Ashani demonstrate it here:
Nearly 5,000 of these rods are going to be installed in Kota hostels
Ashani told ScoopWhoop News that the Kota Hostel association approached him some tine ago after learning about the concept though media. "They have ordered some 5,000 rods to be installed across Kota hostels. The first consignment of 500 rods is being delivered to them today," said Mulund resident Ashani.
Manish Jain, president of Kota Hostel association told Mirror that their aim is to cover the entire state of Rajasthan and not just Kota.
Ashani got the idea after model Nafisa Joseph's suicide
In June 2004, model Nafisa Joseph hanged herself in her flat in Versova, Mumbai, weeks before she was about to marry businessman Gautam Khanduja.
A little research further told Ashani that half the suicides happen by hanging. Data from the National Crime Record Bureau says that almost half - 60,000 out of about 1.3 lakh people who commit suicides - do so by hanging, he said.
It was then that Ashani brain-stormed and eventually succeeded in inventing the rod - entirely in-house. Over the years, he has improved upon the original design and even started production at a local workshop.
The idea, as per Ashani, is to prevent people from accessing the most used avenue to commit suicides.