In !ncredible India, one farmer kills himself every half hour. Surprisingly, it is the farmer in economically more developed states, not traditional ones, who is most vulnerable.
In 2005 there were as many as 312 suicides a day, almost a third of them by women. Analysis gives that one-third of those who commit suicide are young people, less than 29 years old. An average of 90 of those who take their lives every day are above 45 years.
Suicides in the country are driven by various factors. Of these, "family problems" and "illness" make up about 44% of suicides. Other factors mentioned include "love affairs".
Paradoxically, poverty does not come across as an important factor driving people to end their lives. It accounts for a mere 2.2% of the suicides reported. While suicides by indebted farmers are supposed to have been largely responsible for driving suicide figures up, "bankruptcy" has been mentioned in just 2.7% of the cases.
It is also seen that more men commit suicides than women. And while loneliness and the pangs of separation have long been held to leading people to take the extreme step, more than two-thirds of those who committed suicides in 2005 were married.
Meanwhile, two student suicides in the last three months at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore have raised several issues , such as the absence of effective counseling for students at a top class institute where pressures abound.
This August , 21-year-old Ajay Shrichandra, a Ph. D. student committed suicide. Now has come the news of the suicide of 32-year-old Ph. D scholar R. Chaitra.
"Chaitra had suffered from depression a year ago, but seemed to have overcome it. But we need sophisticated counseling to deal with complex psychological problems," a friend of Chaitra was quoted.
The Health Centre of IISc has only one trained psychiatrist for a student strength of over 2,000. Besides, supervisors often have very little time to help students with emotional problems, it is understood.
Another Ph. D. student from the Physical Sciences Division divulged that he had approached senior members of the administration with suggestions of a telephone helpline soon after Shrichandra's suicide, but nothing was done.
"We had recommended a telephone helpline to protect the privacy of people who sought help. There is still considerable stigma attached to mental health issues in the country, and IISc. is no different. Not everyone is comfortable to go for counseling sessions at the busy Health Centre", he was quoted.
A committee of seven members which was formed after the death of Shrichandra had submitted a report a month ago , to Director P. Balaram . Here the need to improve student counseling facilities had been expressed, says V.H Arakeri, Dean of the Engineering Faculty and chairman of the committee.
"We need to strengthen avenues for students to express their problems, both in terms of trained counselors and qualified psychiatrists, and also in identifying faculty counselors whom students can easily approach," Arakeri suggests.