Six Nepali international students died by suicide so far in 2020. That’s according to the Embassy of Nepal in Australia. The five men and one woman were all in their 20s.

The deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Canberra, Ms Durapada Sapkota, said the situation is very distressing and concerning. She thinks many students have unrealistic expectations and feel pressure from family and friends in Nepal.

Many come here with big dreams, after seeing their friends posting photos with lavish cars. When their expectations do not match the reality, some hesitate to talk to their parents and friends and suffer mental health issues.

Durapada Sakota – Embassy of Nepal in Australia

She believes the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to the problems faced by international students, with many losing their jobs or experiencing domestic violence.

Neharika’s story

International student Neharika Dahal arrived in Australia from Nepal in 2017.

During her first six months in Australia a combination of homesickness, academic and employment pressures, made her feel very stressed. She thought the feelings were just a part of being a young student. She now knows that she was severely depressed.

I did not know I was depressed until I began to understand and learn about its symptoms.

My life completely changed and I was ignoring the issues I was facing. It was so draining that at one point I had suicidal thoughts that lasted a month.

The thought of asking anyone for help never crossed my mind. I was also scared people would ignore me. I couldn’t discuss the problem openly with my family either.

Neharika is concerned that other Nepali international students like her are experiencing similar problems and is urging them to talk about it.

Grieving parents

Ganga Devi Upreti lost her only son, Swatesh, to suicide in 2019. He only had one semester left to finish his degree at the University of Technology in Sydney. 

Ms Upreti says parents should talk to their kids about education and work pressures in a foreign country, and she also thinks education agencies have a role to play:

Educational consultancies, rather than thinking about their commissions, should not be making false promises to students and tell them everything is great in Australia.

Ms Supreti says her son suffered in silence because he did not want to tell her or her husband about the challenges he was facing in Australia:

He was severely depressed, but he wasn’t telling us about the real situation so not to worry us.

Love and care was missing when he needed it the most.

The Upreti family is now setting up a foundation in memory of their son, Swatesh, to provide counselling and awareness of issues faced by international students in Australia.

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Source: SBS Nepal