New Delhi: Suicide is the leading cause of death in the 15-39 years age group in India. Thirty-seven per cent of such deaths among women globally occur in India, and the suicide rate among the elderly has increased over the past quarter century.
The data was released on Wednesday by the India State-level Disease Burden Initiative, a joint study of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and other institutes including the Public Health Foundation of India and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“India’s proportional contribution to global suicide deaths is high and increasing. Suicide Death Rate (SDR) in India is higher than expected for its socio-demographic index level, especially for women, with substantial variations in the magnitude and men-to-women ratio between the states,” the study noted.
India must develop a suicide-prevention strategy that takes into account these variations in order to address this major public health problem, it stated. “The highest age-specific SDR among women in 2016 was for ages 15-29 years. Suicide was the leading cause of death in India in 2016 for those aged 15-39 years; 71.2% of the suicide deaths among women and 57.7% among men were in this age group,” the study said.
ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said: “The very high contribution of India — from 1990 to 2016 — to the total suicide deaths in the world, especially among women, is a cause of worry. The ten-fold variation between the States in the SDR for women emphasises the need to better understand the reasons behind these suicides and make concerted efforts to reduce this avoidable loss of predominantly young lives.”
“India’s contribution to global suicide deaths increased from 25.3% in 1990 to 36.6% in 2016 among women, and from 18.7% to 24.3% among men,” the study noted. It further said that if the trends observed up to 2016 continued, the probability of India achieving Sustainable Development Goals for SDR reduction in 2030 was zero.
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana, which are in the higher-middle and high epidemiological transition level groups, consistently had a higher SDR for both men and women.
Suicide prevention helpline: New Delhi — Sanjivni, Society for Mental Health, 011-4076 9002; Chennai — Sneha, 044-24640050.