Bangladesh saw nearly 600 student suicides in 2022. What is causing these tragedies?

From the physical to the social to the existential, many pressures are affecting the mental health of today’s youth

Shoumik Hassin
Published : 14 March 2023, 01:00 PM
Updated : 14 March 2023, 01:00 PM

Recently, my brother asked me to use my personal computer. He’s a teenager enrolled in Class 7 at Alia Madrasah. He had been acting moody lately, so I told him I would let him use it if he wrote something instead of watching YouTube.

After he gave it back, I found a new Word document. I gave in to my curiosity and opened it. There was only a single sentence on it:

“I’m a lonely person because everyone in the world hates me.”

I was utterly shocked. His grumpiness, his stubbornness, his unrealistic expectations, his drop off in studies, and his sudden skipping of classes – it all suddenly made sense. It was midnight, but I wanted to rush into his room to hug him and tell him that everything would be okay.

Many around us are struggling to stay afloat. To survive. But we don’t always see it.

Someone I knew had been a victim of domestic violence for a long time. She always fought to stay optimistic. She kept assuring her friends:

“Don’t panic. It’s okay. I’m all right.”

But some time last year, her hope ran out, and she committed suicide.

An Aachol Foundation report found that 585 students in Bangladesh committed suicide in 2022, nearly 50 a month. Most of them, 76.12 percent, were between 13 and 19 years old.

Whenever news of suicide spreads on social media, it triggers a discussion on mental health. But, the talk is often just people comparing themselves to the dead, often minimising their pain and trauma. When struggling people see these discussions, I believe they feel further isolated from their communities.    

It is essential to understand the impact actions have on others. We know that some things are objective, but interpretations of events often differ depending on a person’s perspective. The suicide of Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell was part of the reason his friend, Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, killed himself.

But there are many contributing factors to suicide. Lack of trust is an important one. People find it difficult to be honest with others and speak openly about their challenges and issues. They fear the repercussions and, perhaps, the anger and dismissal they believe will result from telling others of their problems.

Another is exhaustion. When an issue persists over time, it can take a considerable toll. It drains people of their energy and leaves them unable to confront their daily schedule.

This isn’t just mental, but physical too. We all know that Gen-Z is constantly sleep-deprived. The body’s routine is disrupted without proper sleep. Not enough quality sleep can lead to hormonal imbalances that affect the body and the mind.

We should also consider our daily habits. We all know smartphones and easy internet access have drastically reduced our patience and attention span. We always want to feel plugged in, whether it’s to friends and family, to the news, to world events, or entertainment and the latest fashions. Our viewing habits have changed as technology and platforms have changed. Instead of 10-minute videos, people like watching 30-second reels with loud, brief summaries of the main points. The constant stream of information, entertainment, and news to our brains can be overwhelming, potentially re-wiring its neural structure in ways that harm thinking and behaviour.

Broader social factors must be considered as well. We are living in a time of global stress. The world just emerged from a deadly pandemic to be thrust into a brutal war that wreaks havoc on the world economy. Prices are spiralling up. Politics seem divisive and violent. The threat of climate change looms. And there is fear of a future driven by artificial intelligence, which may automate away much of the work people currently do.

Young people may have it easier in many ways than the hardships faced by older generations, but they also have a huge burden of expectations placed on them. They will have to be productive, competitive, skilled, and hard-working to cope with these problems. It can be exhausting. At university, many of my classmates and seniors say they already feel depressed thinking about the future, wondering if it will only add to their heavy loads. Change can be good, but adaptation is complex.

This article is part of Stripe,'s special publication focusing on culture and society from a youth perspective.