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Percentage of suicides by daily-wage laborers have nearly doubled between 2014 and 2018

According to the latest NCRB data, the daily wage earners and those with an annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh accounted for the highest number of suicide victims.

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New Delhi: Daily-wagers, the poorest accounted for the highest number of suicide victims in 2018, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data released last Wednesday.

According to the Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI) sub-section of the NCRB data, a break-up based on occupational status of the victims shows that daily-wagers comprise the highest percentage – that is 22.4 per cent of all suicide victims.

This is nearly twice as much as the percentage of daily wage laborers who committed suicide in 2014 — 12 per cent. 

The percentage has been consistently increasing since 2014 with daily wage laborers accounting for 17.8 percent of suicide victims in 2015, 19.2 percent in 2016 and 22.1 per cent in 2017.

The poorest in the country also accounted for the most suicide victims. Of the 1, 34,516 suicides committed in 2018, 88,986 or 66.2 per cent of the victims earned annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh while 29.1 per cent belonged to the income group of between Rs 1 lakh to 5 lakh.

Source: National Crime Records Bureau

India’s leading mental health expert Vikram Patel blamed the state of the economy combined with the sense of entrapment for the rising cases of suicides among daily wage labourers.

“In this economy of ours, with jobs increasingly disappearing, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that daily wage labourers are committing suicide at this rate.” Patel told ThePrint. “Until 10 years ago, the daily wagers wouldn’t have formed such a high percentage of the suicide vicims because the economy was growing. Today, the construction industry, which happens to be the most common employer of the daily wage labour, is evaporating.”

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Housewives second-most affected

After daily wage earners, it is housewives who account for the highest percentage of all suicide victims — 17.1 per cent of the suicide victims were housewives with marriage, family issues cited as the most prevalent cause.

Among women victims, housewives comprise 54.1 per cent of the suicides committed in 2018 — 22,937 of 42,391 woman suicide victims.

“The proportion of female victims were more in ‘Marriage Related Issues’ specifically in ‘Dowry Related Issues’, and ‘Impotency/Infertility’,” the NCRB report says.

‘Family problems’ topped the list as the number one cause of suicides with it being the cause behind 30.4 per cent of victims taking their lives. This was followed by Illness (17.7 per cent) and marriage-related issues (6.2 per cent).

Other causes include drug abuse, alcohol addiction, indebtedness and love affairs, among others.

Source: National Crime Records Bureau

Not the illiterate, but the educated who make highest percentage of suicide victims

While the poorest and daily wage earners make for the highest percentage of suicide victims, a break-up based on education qualifications shows that those who have completed matriculation comprise the highest percentage of victims.

The highest percentage of suicide victims — 23.6 per cent or 31,757 out of 1,34,516 victims — had completed their matriculation/ secondary level schooling. Around 12.7 per cent or 17,026 of the victims were illiterate — had received no education.

Also read: Male kids & adolescents who self-harm more likely to commit suicide later, says Lancet study


Source: National Crime Records Bureau

Farmer suicides

A total of 10,349 individuals involved in the farming sector committed suicide that includes 5,763 farmers or cultivators and 4,586 agricultural laborers. Agriculture sector suicides accounted for 7.7 per cent of the total suicides in the country in 2018.

Of the 5,763 farmer/cultivator suicides, 5,457 were male and 306 were female suicides. Out of 4,586 suicides committed by agricultural laborers, 4,071 were male and 515 were female.

The suicides related to the farming sector have been going down over the last couple of years, and according to the 2018 NCRB data, certain states and union territories reported zero cases of suicides from the farming sector.

West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Goa, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Puducherry had reported zero suicides of farmers/cultivators as well as agricultural labourers in 2018.

“Farmer suicides was always a very overplayed and politicised issue. It had nothing to do with actual statistics, which would tell us the truth. ” Patel said.

“Every group has a unique social factor that affects their mental and emotional well-being, but what is common is a sense of entrapment.” he added.

The highest number of farming-related suicides were reported from Maharashtra (34.7 per cent) followed by Karnataka (23.2 per cent), Telangana (8.8 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (6.4 per cent) and Madhya Pradesh (6.3 per cent).

Also read: Maharashtra farmers are asserting their freedom by celebrating HTBt cotton crop harvest 


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  1. Tragic. Recall that wrinkled ex soldier from Haryana, overcome by emotion, as he stood in a queue outside a bank during Demonetisation.

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