MUMBAI: Every hour, 15 people kill themselves in India. One in every three victims is aged between 15 and 29 years. Worse, the family is the trigger in about a quarter of the country's 1 lakh-plus suicides annually.
This not-so-happy picture is the essence of the recently released National Crime Records Bureau report for 2009.
Indian planners have been gung-ho about the potential of the countrys youth population, but the NCRB statistics show that people in the 0-29 year age bracket have been killing themselves due to unemployment, exam failure, poverty and dowry disputes.
On a day-to-day scale, eight Indians commit suicide daily due to poverty, another nine due to bankruptcy and seven because of unemployment. The number of suicides due to unemployment and professional or career problems showed a relatively higher increase of 18.8% and 15.1% respectively, said the NCRB report.
There are other worrisome statistics: health problems and their related economic issues prompt 73 suicides daily. Family problems and illnesses account for 44.7% of all suicides in the country. Although men are killing themselves in larger numbers than women, the statistics show that housewives, who were hitherto considered non-suicidal, are ending their lives.
NCRB 2009 said that 223 Indian men killed themselves daily across the country. The corresponding figure for women was 125 daily, and 69 of these were housewives. It is really worrisome to note that housewives are committing suicide in such large numbers.
The report says that one in every five suicides is committed by a housewife, said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty. When we were students we were told that suicides were confined to single people now stress and the alienation brought on by liberalization policies are affecting everyone.
The crime report, which is the only document in India that provides statistics about suicides, concurs: Social and economic causes have led most of the males to commit suicide whereas emotional and personal causes have mainly driven women to end their lives. Among metros, Bangalore recorded the highest suicide rate with 2,167 people killing themselves in 2009. Chennai followed with 1,412, Delhi with 1,215 and Mumbai with 1,051 suicides.
Incidentally, Kolkata has the lowest suicide rate in the country. Five states Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have emerged as sensitive states for senior citizens, accounting for 54.7% suicide victims in the 60-plus age group. Maharashtra ranks third in this list, accounting for 11.2% suicides. The southern states add up to 39.2% of total suicides in the country, with Puducherry having the highest suicide rate in the country at 47.2 suicidal deaths per one lakh population as against the national average of 10.9.
Maharashtra's rate of suicide is 13.2. Lastly, experts pointed out that suicides are increasing rapidly and it is imperative for the government to treat the issue as a public health problem like malaria or polio. Consider how the number of suicides has increased from 1,13,914 in 2005 to 1,27,151 in 2009, and it is indicative enough, said Dr Shetty.