Maharashtra has the highest number of suicides but it ranks lower among major states in rate per lakh population. At 16,970 suicides in 2015, it had more people who killed themselves than Tamil Nadu (15,777) and West Bengal (14,602). In all, at an all India level, 133,623 suicide cases were registered in 2015, slightly lower than 135,585 in 2011. The rate per lakh population for the country as a whole has declined from 11.2 in 2011 to 10.6 in 2015.
As a share of population, suicides in Maharashtra at 14.2 per lakh rank lower than Tamil Nadu (22.8), Kerala (21.6), Karnataka (17.4) and West Bengal among major states. For a state with assured irrigation and fertile land, Haryana is an outlier. It has a suicide rate of 13 per lakh population which is way higher than 3.6 for neighbouring Punjab and 1.6 for Uttar Pradesh. Bimaru Bihar has a low 0.5 percent rate.
Small states and union territories rank high in suicide rates per one lakh population: Puducherry (43.2), Sikkim (37.5) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands (28.9). Telangana and Chhattigarh with 27.7 each are also high suicide rate states. This is against the all India average of 10.6.
Contrary to media reports, suicides in the farming sector are lower at 9.4 percent of total victims. Self-employeds with 19.1 per cent and daily wage earners with 17.8 percent had a higher share in total suicides. It is not clear whether these ranks would hold if respective populations were divided by number of suicides.
Family problems were a major cause, followed by illness, marriage woes, bankruptcy, love affairs, drug abuse, failure in examinations, unemployment, property disputes, poverty and professional and career problems, in that order.
(Top photo: House where a farmer’s son committed suicide in Hivarshinga village, Beed district, Maharashtra in 2015. Photo by Vivian Fernandes).