Suicide in India

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India's suicide rate per 100,000 people compared to other countries, according to the World Health Organization, Geneva. Peeter Värnik[1] claims China, Russia, United States, Japan, and South Korea are the biggest contributors to the absolute number of suicides in the world. Värnik claims India's adjusted annual suicide rate is 10.5 per 100,000, while the suicide rate for the world as a whole is 11.6 per 100,000.

In 2016 the number of suicides in India had increased to 230,314. Suicide was the most common cause of death in both the age groups of 15–29 years and 15–39 years.[2]

About 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide every year,[3] of these 135,000 (17%) are residents of India,[4] a nation with 17.5% of world population. Between 1987 and 2007, the suicide rate increased from 7.9 to 10.3 per 100,000,[5] with higher suicide rates in southern and eastern states of India.[6] In 2012, Tamil Nadu (12.5% of all suicides), Maharashtra (11.9%) and West Bengal (11.0%) had the highest proportion of suicides.[4] Among large population states, Tamil Nadu and Kerala had the highest suicide rates per 100,000 people in 2012. The male to female suicide ratio has been about 2:1.[4]

Estimates for number of suicides in India vary. For example, a study published in The Lancet projected 187,000 suicides in India in 2010,[7] while official data by the Government of India claims 134,600 suicides in the same year.[4]

According to WHO data, the age standardized suicide rate in India is 16.4 per 100,000 for women (6th highest in the world) and 25.8 for men (ranking 22nd).[8]


The Government of India classifies a death as suicide if it meets the following three criteria:[9]

  • it is an unnatural death,
  • the intent to die originated within the person,
  • there is a reason for the person to end his or her life. The reason may have been specified in a suicide note or unspecified.

If one of these criteria is not met, the death may be classified as death because of illness, murder or in another statistical.


Causes for suicide in India In 2014[10]
Causes No. of people
Bankruptcy or indebtedness
Marriage Related Issues (total)
(including) Non Settlement of Marriage
(including) Dowry Related Issues
(including) Extra Marital affairs
(including) Divorce
(including) Others
Failure in Examination
Other Family problems
Illness (total)
Death of dear person
Drug abuse/addiction
Fall in social reputation
Ideological causes/Hero worshipping
Love affairs
Property dispute
Suspected/Illicit relation
Illegitimate Pregnancy
Physical Abuse (Rape, etc.)
Professional/Career Problem
Causes not known
Other causes

Regional trends

The southern states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu along with eastern states of West Bengal, Tripura and Mizoram have a suicide rate of greater than 16 while it is less than 4 in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.[4] Puducherry reported the highest suicide rate at 36.8 per 100,000 people, followed by Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The lowest suicide rates were reported in Bihar (0.8 per 100,000), followed by Nagaland and Manipur.[9]

Age and suicide in India

In India, about 46,000 suicides occurred each in 15–29 and 30–44 age groups in 2012 – or about 3% each of all suicides.[4]

Method of suicide in India

Poisoning (33%), hanging (26%) and self-immolation (9%) were the primary methods used to die by suicide in 2012.[4]


In 2012, 89% of the suicide victims were literate, higher than the national average literacy rate of 74%.[9]

Suicide in cities

There were 19,120 suicides in India's largest 53 cities. In the year 2012, Chennai reported the highest total number of suicides at 2,183, followed by Bengaluru (1,989), Delhi (1,397) and Mumbai (1,296). Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) followed by Kollam (Kerala) reported the highest rate of suicides at 45.1 and 40.5 per 100,000 people respectively, about 4 times higher than national average rate.[9] There is a wide variation in suicide rates, year to year, among Indian cities. As well in Punjab suicide rate increase for bank issues.


On average, male suicide rate is twice that of females.[11] However, there is a wide variation in this ratio at the regional level. West Bengal reported 6,277 female suicides, the highest among all states of India, and a ratio of male to female suicides at 4:3.[9]


Domestic violence

Domestic violence is a major risk factor for suicide in a case study performed in Bangalore.[12][13] However, as a fraction of total suicides, violence against women – such as domestic violence, rape, incest and dowry – accounted for less than 4% of total suicides.[4]

Suicide motivated by politics

Suicides motivated by ideology doubled between 2006 and 2008.[6]

Suicide motivated by mental illness(Depression)

The Indian government has been criticized by the media for its mental health care system, which is linked to the high suicide rate.[14][15]

Farmer's suicide in India

India's economy vastly depends on agriculture with around 60% of its people directly or indirectly depend upon it. Different reasons like droughts, low yield prices, exploitation by middlemen and inability to pay loans lead Indian farmers to die by suicide.

Student suicides in India

According to 2015 data from the National Crime Records Bureau, 8,934 students are committing suicide every year. That's one student every hour. Despite being one of the most advanced states in India, Maharashtra has the highest number of student suicides with 1230 of the 8930 suicides occurring here (14%) and Tamil Nadu has the second highest with 955 of the 8934 suicides (10%).[16]

Every hour one student commits suicide in India, with about 28 such suicides reported every day, according to data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The NCRB data shows that 10,159 students died by suicide in 2018, an increase from 9,905 in 2017, and 9,478 in 2016.[17]

Cram Schools

Many suicides are attributed to the intense pressure and harsh regimen of the students in cram schools (or coaching institutes).[18] These institutes offer coaching to high school students for various competitive exams, such as the JEE or NEET.[19][20]


Ragging has been identified as a trigger for suicides.[21]

Suicide in the Indian Armed Forces

Over 100 soldiers in the Indian Armed Forces are lost due to suicides and fratricides.[22][23]


In India, suicide was illegal and the survivor would face jail term of up to one year and fine under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. However, the government of India decided to repeal the law in 2014.[24] In April 2017, the Indian parliament decriminalised suicide by passing the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017[25][26] and the act commenced in July 2018.

Suicide prevention

Approaches to preventing suicide suggested in a 2003 monograph include:

  1. Reducing social isolation
  2. Preventing social disintegration
  3. Treating mental disorders[27]
  4. Regulating the sale of pesticides & ropes[27]
  5. Promoting psychological motivational sessions and meditation and yoga.[27]

State-led policies are being enforced to decrease the high suicide rate among farmers of Karnataka.[28]

See also


  1. Värnik, Peeter (2012). "Suicide in the World". International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 9 (3): 760–771. doi:10.3390/ijerph9030760. PMC 3367275. PMID 22690161.
  2. "Gender differentials and state variations in suicide deaths in India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2016". Lancet. 1 October 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  3. Using the phrase ‘commit suicide’ is offensive to survivors and frightening to anyone contemplating taking his/her life. It’s not the same as ‘being committed’ to a relationship or any other use of it as a verb. Suicide prevention (SUPRE) World Health Organization (2012)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Suicides in India Archived 2014-05-13 at the Wayback Machine The Registrar General of India, Government of India (2012)
  5. Vijaykumar L. (2007), Suicide and its prevention: The urgent need in India, Indian J Psychiatry;49:81–84,
  6. 6.0 6.1 Polgreen, Lydia (March 30, 2010). "Suicides, Some for Separatist Cause, Jolt India". The New York Times.
  7. Patel, V.; Ramasundarahettige, C.; Vijayakumar, L.; Thakur, J. S.; Gajalakshmi, V.; Gururaj, G.; Suraweera, W.; Jha, P. (2012). "Suicide mortality in India: A nationally representative survey". The Lancet. 379 (9834): 2343–51. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60606-0. PMC 4247159. PMID 22726517.
  8. Suicide Rates – Data by country. World Health Organization 2012. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 ADSI 2012 Annual Report Archived 2013-08-10 at the Wayback Machine Glossary, Government of India
  10. "Catalogs/State/UT-wise distribution of suicides by causes".
  11. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-13. Retrieved 2014-04-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. Gururaj, G; Isaac, M; Subhakrishna, DK; Ranjani, R (2004). "Risk factors for completed suicides: A case-control study from Bangalore, India". Inj Control Saf Promot. 11 (3): 183–91. doi:10.1080/156609704/233/289706. PMID 15764105. S2CID 29716380.
  13. Deshpande, R S (2009), Agrarian Transition and Farmers’ Distress in Karnataka. In D. Narasimha Reddy and Srijit Mishra (eds.) ‘Agrarian Crisis in India’. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, New Delhi.
  14. "India's Mental Health Crisis". The New York Times. 2014-12-30.
  15. Bray, Carrick (2016-11-04). "Mental Daily Slams India's Mental Health System — Calls It 'Crippling', 'Misogynistic'". The Huffington Post.
  16. "Every hour, one student commits suicide in India". Hindustan Times. 2017-04-08. Retrieved 2020-06-21.
  17. Garai, Shuvabrata (2020-01-29). "Student suicides rising, 28 lives lost every day". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-06-21.
  18. "Why 57 Young Students Have Taken Their Lives In Kota". HuffPost India. 2016-06-01. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  19. "After 50 student suicides, Andhra and Telangana govts wake up to looming crisis". The News Minute. 2017-10-17. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  20. Iqbal, Mohammed (2018-12-29). "The dark side of Kota's dream chasers". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  21. Deepika, K. c (2015-08-06). "Ragging leads to 15 suicides in 18 months". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2020-10-13.
  22. Peri, Dinakar (2021-01-08). "Over half of Army personnel under severe stress: study". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2021-01-11.
  23. "Prevailing stress levels in Indian Army due to prolonged exposure to counter insurgency/ counter terrorism environment, report of scholar's webinar held on 17 October 2020". United Service Institution of India. 7 December 2020. Archived from the original on 11 January 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  24. "Govt decides to repeal Section 309 from IPC; attempt to suicide no longer a crime". Zee News. December 10, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  25. "Mental health bill decriminalising suicide passed by Parliament". The Indian Express. 27 March 2017. Archived from the original on 27 March 2017. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  26. THE MENTAL HEALTHCARE ACT, 2017 (PDF). New Delhi: The Gazette of India. 7 April 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 April 2017.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Singh A.R., Singh S.A. (2003), Towards a suicide free society: identify suicide prevention as public health policy, Mens Sana Monographs, II:2, p3-16. [cited 2011 Mar 7]
  28. Deshpande, R S (2002), Suicide by Farmers in Karnataka: Agrarian Distress and Possible Alleviatory Steps, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol 37 No 25, pp2601-10

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