Up to 21 students have killed themselves in the last week in India after an IT glitch led to them failing their exams.
The victims, from Telangana state, include at least one boy who threw himself in front of a train and another girl who burned herself to death, local media reports.
Ministers have admitted there were ‘major failings’ with a new IT system used to grade the papers and that human error played a part as well.
Pupils who had previously done well in exams told CNN-News 18 that this year their marks were reduced to single-digits, meaning they failed overall.
Politicians have begged students not to harm themselves if they believe their result has been affected, while offering re-marking free of charge.
But concerns have been raised because the same private firm that marked the original tests – Globearena – will play a role in the re-marking.
Hundreds of parents and pupils have since taken to the streets to protest.
One parent told News 18: ‘In first year, my son topped the exams, but now his marks are in single digits. I don’t know what to do.
‘I have assured him that everything will be sorted out. But what if he too harms himself?’
In total, almost 1million pupils took exams in the state and out of those, more than 300,000 were found to have failed.
While ministers say that only a small percentage of those who failed were affected by the errors, they conceded that the failure rate marked an increase on last year.
The number of exam-related suicides is also the highest in four years.
Speaking directly to pupils, Chief Minister Chandrashekhar Rao urged them not to do anything rash.
He said: ‘Failing in examination does not amount to failing in life. Life is precious. Even if one fails in the examination, there will be plenty of opportunities.’