ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Reducing Suicides

Prevalence of suicide in India is a public health issue and must be addressed as one.

The National Mental Health Survey of India, 2015–16, a 12-state survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, found that 1% of those surveyed had “high suicidal risk.” This figure could be around 76 lakh persons if extrapolated for India. The report emphasises that there is an increasing prevalence of suicide risk, and it “warrants the need for multi-sectoral action.” There are considerable misconceptions about the prevalence of suicide and the reasons for its significant presence. A clear understanding of what we are up against would be the first step if we are to collectively tackle this largely imperceptible public health crisis.

Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, 2014 (ADSI) brought out by the National Crime Records Bureau in July 2015 tells us that the suicide rate in India was 10.6 per lakh population. Behind this national average are wide variations across states. According to ADSI data, the highest suicide rates are in Puducherry (40.3), Sikkim (38.4), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (28.9), Telangana (26.5), followed closely by Kerala (23.4) and Tamil Nadu (22.4). In general, looking at the more populous states, a pattern emerges where the states in the south have recorded higher rates of suicides. These regional trends point to social and economic issues that need to be taken on board to understand why there is such variation within India. For instance, why is it that states in the Gangetic plains (other than West Bengal) have lower suicide rates, but also have lower human development indicators, while the southern states are better developed, but have higher suicide rates?

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