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Indians also account for 1/4th of all men who commit suicide. The problem is especially high among the age group 16-39, and among the elderly.

New Delhi: India may account for about 18 per cent of the world population, but nearly 37 per cent of women who commit suicide around the world are Indians, showed a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal Wednesday.

Even among men, India accounts for 24 per cent of suicide deaths in the world, the study revealed.

The study, titled ‘Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2016’, has pointed out many other worrying aspects of the growing problem of suicides in India.

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There was an increase of 40 per cent in the number of suicide deaths between 1990 and 2016, with an estimated 2,30,314 deaths in 2016 indicating that “disproportionately high suicide deaths in India are a public health crisis”, said the lead author of the study, Prof. Rakhi Dandona from the Public Health Foundation of India.

There is an urgent need for a national suicide prevention strategy, which is data-driven, gender-specific and takes the state variations into account, said Dandona.

Suicide death rates

The suicide death rate (number of suicides per one lakh persons) for women in India in 2016 was 15, which is 2.1 times the global SDR for women. The corresponding figure for men was 1.4 times the world average.

Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Tripura had high SDRs for men and women, while in Kerala and Chhattisgarh, the figure was high for men.

“The trends in SDR in women in this study suggest the need to further assess the complex relationships between gender and suicidal behaviour to facilitate women-specific suicide prevention strategies,” Dandona said.

At the same time, she stressed the high SDR among men in India has not changed over time and needs immediate attention.

Young and old most susceptible

Sixty-three per cent of all suicide deaths reported in India were in the 15-39 age group. Suicide ranked first in India as the cause of death in this age group, compared to its third rank globally.

Married women also account for a high proportion of suicide deaths in India.

Among married women, the causes for suicide included arranged and early marriage, young motherhood, low social status, domestic violence and economic dependence.

Among men, young adults are the most vulnerable group, with reasons for suicide including personal and social factors, financial problems, poor health.

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The study also found that SDR is increasing among the elderly, especially among those above the age of 80 years, which poses additional challenges.

For the elderly, social isolation, depression, functional disability, and the feeling of being a burden on their family have been cited as reasons for suicides globally; however, not much is known about reasons for suicides in the elderly in India, Dandona said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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