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Background: In India, elevated suicide rates disproportionately impact the young, productive populations. Social influences from family, school, and peers contribute to significant stressors among students, primarily academic stress. Suicide and suicide attempts lead to profound emotional, physical, and economic consequences. Early interventions in educational settings promise enduring health and socioeconomic benefits by preventing the onset of mental health issues. This rapid systematic review aimed to identify and describe existing peer-reviewed literature on academic stress as a contributor to suicidal behaviors among students in India.

Methods: Two databases, PubMed, and Scopus were searched in September 2023. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were leveraged to aid in screening titles, abstracts, and full articles based on inclusion or exclusion criteria. The final sample contained eleven studies.

Results: All eleven studies found that academic stress was common among students who experience suicidal behaviors. Four of the eleven studies found an association between academic stress and suicidal behaviors. Fear of failure in examinations or academic failure and dissatisfaction with academic performance were identified as the most common types of academic stressors. College students from healthcare-related streams were found to be at higher risk. High parental expectations were seen as a contributing factor. Hanging was found to be the most common method of suicide.

Conclusion: This review conducted a comprehensive search of the literature to examine the association between academic stress and suicidal behaviors among students in India. The findings emphasize the need for policy reforms needed for educational system change and the need for stress reduction strategies in educational settings. Importantly, the findings serve as hypothesis-generating and indicate the need for future research in this area.