A medical aspirant died by suicide in Chennai on Wednesday, weeks before he was to take the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), the mandatory entrance exam for admission into medical colleges in the country.
In a video message to his parents and sibling, P Danush, 18, son of an auto-driver, said, "I could not achieve; I could not succeed. Only I'm responsible for my death." The video couldn't be independently verified by NDTV.
No suicide note was found, said an officer investigating the case.
The student, who was from a tribal community, got admission in a private medical college last year, but his family couldn't afford its fees or enroll him in private coaching, investigators said. He was preparing for the exams to a government medical college this year.
More than 20 medical aspirants, including board toppers, have died by suicide over the last few years in Tamil Nadu after failing to secure adequate marks in NEET for admission to government colleges.
Tamil Nadu vehemently opposes NEET, arguing that the system favours only those who can afford private coaching. The state government claims the test puts the poor and rural students at a disadvantage.
For nearly a decade, the state allowed medical admissions purely on the basis of Class 12 marks.
The Tamil Nadu assembly had passed a bill seeking exemption from NEET in September last year, but it was returned by the Governor this February. The assembly readopted it a week later and the Governor forwarded it in May to the President, who has yet to act on it. A similar bill by the previous AIADMK regime was turned down by the President.
In what's being seen as a growing support for Tamil Nadu's stance on NEET, at least three other states -- Karnataka, West Bengal and Kerala -- have demanded an exemption from the entrance test.
Many experts argue that NEET is only a ploy to ensure a steady stream of students to private medical colleges, largely owned by politicians collecting exorbitant fees.
However, there have claims that this system has checked the earlier-prevalent unregulated admission process based on donations.
Meanwhile, some suggest NEET could be restricted for admission to private colleges only.