Academic achievement among Asians has been widely recognized in the literature, but the costs of this success may be tied to significant mental health consequences. Three samples of undergraduate students in India were recruited from cities such as Chennai, Kerala, and Delhi totaling 608 (303 male, 301 females). Both online and in class recruitment occurred.
There were three main purposes of this study: 1) to construct a quantitative measure of parental pressure, 2) to evaluate whether self-esteem was a potential buffer of the negative impacts of parental pressure and academic stress, and 3) to understand better the factors impacting suicidality among adolescents in India by testing a path model of possible predictors suggested by the literature. Prevalence data of suicidal ideation and attempt history were also collected. Reporting on their experience over the past six months, 14.5% (n = 82) of the participants endorsed suicidal ideation and 12.3% (n = 69) of the participants admitted to having deliberately attempted to hurt or kill themselves.
Five constructs were explored in this study: parental pressure, academic stress, depression, suicidality, and self-esteem. The Parental Pressure for Success Scale, designed for this study, was used to measure parental pressure. The Educational Stress Scale-Adolescents was used to measure academic stress. The Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale was used to measure depressive symptomology. Two items from the Youth Self-Report Checklist were used as a measure of suicidality in the past six months. The Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale was used to measure global self-esteem.
Preliminary support for the reliability and validity of the Parental Pressure for Success Scale was found. While self-esteem was not a significant moderator in this study, it was a predictor of both stress and depression. Results of the path analysis indicated that parental pressure predicted academic stress, stress predicted depression, and depression predicted suicidality. Parental pressure indirectly predicted suicidality through academic stress and depression. Results were discussed in the context of cultural influences on study findings such as the central role of parents in the family unit, the impact of cultural valuing of education, collectivistic society, and the Hindu concept of dharma, or duty.