Recently, National Crime Records Bureau has released its 54th edition of the annual report on accidental deaths & suicides. This abstract is based on the report entitled, “Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India 2020”.

Global rate of suicide — WHO figures

Globally 8,00,000 people die from suicides every year. According to WHO estimates, one in 100 people die of suicide. “One Death every 40 seconds”. For South-East Asian countries the rate of suicide is 10.2 which is lower than India.

Suicide rate in India

1,53,052 people in India have committed suicides in 2020. As seen from the previous year’s statistics, numbers have kept on increasing and also the highest in past 10 years. Let us also draw attention to the pandemic which has struck the entire world really bad. Coping with COVID-19 have caused huge emotional stress to people. A meta analysis study on suicidal behaviours during COVID-19 suggests there were increased suicidal attempts, suicidal ideas and self-harm as compared to pre-pandemic period.

The rate of suicide (per lakh population) in India has increased from 10.4 in 2019 to 11.3 in 2020. Andaman and Nicobar islands reported the highest rate (45.0) followed by Sikkim (42.5), Chhattisgarh (26.4), Puducherry (26.3), and Kerala (24.0). Of 53 mega cities in India, Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai contributed to highest number of suicides and contributing to 37.4% of all suicides in mega cities. The overall rate of suicides is 14.8 in mega cities as compared to all India suicide rate (11.3).

The male to female ratio of victims was approximately 70.9:29:1. Masculinity plays an important role here. Men have a so-called invisible veil in front of them which makes it difficult for them to express their emotions.

State wise distribution of suicides

Maharashtra accounted for the highest percentage (13%) in suicides followed by Tamil Nadu (11%), Madhya Pradesh (9.5%), West Bengal (8.6%) and Karnataka (8%) respectively in 2020.

States which reported least number of suicides were Ladakh (12), Nagaland (48) and Manipur (44). Further, Uttarakhand recorded the highest increase in suicide percentage (82.8%) over 2019 percentage followed by Mizoram (54.3%), Himachal Pradesh (46.7%) and Arunachal Pradesh (42.9%).

People belonging to 18–29 age group & 30–45 years of age group were the most vulnerable group for committing suicides. 11396 people below the age of 18 years have committed suicides in 2020.

Some of main reasons accounted for it were “Family problems” (33.6%) followed by “Illness” (18%), “drug addiction” (6%) and “marriage related problems” (5%), etc. It is strange to note that suicide due to examination failure is recorded at only 1.4%. Number of suicides by students were 6967 and due to failure in examination was 2744 in 2020.

Of 1,085,32 suicides (male), most of them were committed by daily wage earners (33,164) followed by self-employed people (15,990) and unemployed people (12,893). Whereas on the other hand of 44,498 females who took their lives, there were 22,372 suicides by housewives followed by daily wage earners (4493). One of the reasons of such high number of suicides by the housewives was attributed to change in social transformation. , that is, conflicts among spouses, relation with their mothers-in-law and their education. Harassment for dowry is another important reason.

In 2020, 66.1% (more than 1 lakh) of the suicide victims were married, while 24% were unmarried. 63.3% of the suicide victims were earning less than Rs.1 lakh a year. It clearly states the conditioning of one’s economic status plays a huge role in leading them to take such extreme step. It is again important to indicate that how important is to understated the extent of unemployment in our country from the next point. As, 23% of suicide victims were educated till 10th standard, 19.5 % of them were educated till middle level followed by 15% (higher secondary). Hanging is the most prominent means of committing suicide, accounted for 57.8% of suicides followed by consuming poison (25%) and drowning (5.2%). Tamil Nadu followed by Andhra Pradesh accounted for the highest number cases of family/mass suicides.