//Kerala accounts for 25.9% of suicides

Kerala accounts for 25.9% of suicides

Chennai, Oct 07: South India accounts for 47 per cent of the total suicides in the country, according to a study by a voluntary agency focusing on suicide prevention. Kerala, India's most literate state, rules the chart as before with 25.9 per cent.

The Union Territory of Pondicherry registered the highest rate of suicides with 57 people per lakh resorting to the extreme step every year, Sneha founder Lakshmi Vijayakumar told reporters at a press conference here today.

Kerala, one of the most literate states in the country, accounted for the highest rate of suicides among the states with a figure of 28.9 people per lakh.

Of the four metros, Chennai recorded the highest suicide rates (19.3 people per lakh), while IT hub Bangalore had a figure of 25.9 people per lakh.

Vijayakumar said the rate of suicides in the country had increased from 6.7 per cent in 1975 to 10.4 per cent now.

On an average, 1.10 lakh people commit suicide in the country every year and a majority of them were below the age of 40 years, she said. Tamil Nadu accounted for 11,000 suicides and Chennai alone reported 1,200 suicides every year.

Explaining the reasons for the situation in south India, Vijayakumar said the high rate could be due to bottled up aggression and higher expectancy arising from the high literacy rates.

"South Indians have naturally been less aggressive than north Indians probably because of fewer invasions in the past. Moreover, the higher literacy rate in the south leads to higher expectancy levels, and indirectly to stress," she said.

Over 40 per cent of suicide attempts were due to domestic problems, while two per cent were due to failure in examinations and failed love affairs respectively, Vijayakumar said.

Announcing the extension of Sneha's services round the clock from October 13, she said the need had arisen for a 24-hour suicide prevention service because of the growing demand for emotional support from people in the BPO sector.

Of the total calls received at Sneha, at least 10 per cent are from BPO employees.

"The shift in family structure because of the sudden independence a BPO job offers to a 20-year-old, the role reversal in families and exposure to a broader outlook towards life a BPO employee gets, which is not acceptable to the family — all these coupled with stressful jobs and physiological changes due to night shifts make them suicide prone," she said.

BPO employees usually contact Sneha through e-mail as part of its "befriending through e-mail" facility.

"Those contacting us via e-mail have been found to have more suicidal intentions and the risk of suicide in them is very high," Vijayakumar said.

To address the issue of increasing suicides, Sneha has prepared a national framework to deal with various aspects of suicide prevention, including substance abuse, domestic violence and stress at workplace.

"For a billion people, India has only 3,500 psychiatrists. The national plan explores the means to use the services of faith healers and practitioners of alternate medicine to improve mental health," she said.

Suicide prevention requires collaboration and commitment from all segments of society and the framework will unite all those functioning as "gateways of society" for this purpose, she said.
Why Bihar has the lowest suicide rate

PATNA: Always at the bottom in most indices of social and economic progress, Bihar strangely has the lowest number of suicides in India.

According to a study by the voluntary organisation Sneha, the state accounts for only 1.7 per cent of India's suicides. Uttar Pradesh comes second at 4.8 per cent. Forty per cent of Bihar's 83 million population lives below the poverty line, the highest national figure and the migration level is high. The study concludes that the general hardship and the average Bihari's high endurance could have much to do with the low figure.

According to the report, most of the 154,000 annual suicides in India are of those below the age of 40 – and most of them youngsters.

Southern states account for 47 per cent of the total suicides. Last year Tamil Nadu reported 11,000. Pondicherry, too, shows a rising trend with 57 people out of every 100,000 taking their own lives.

Among the factors cited are increasing alcoholism, mental illness, crime, domestic violence, migration, consumerism, indebtedness, competitiveness and unemployment.

All these have pushed up the country's suicide rate from 6.7 per 100,000 in 1975 to 10.4 this year.