Last week, the National Crime Records Bureau released data on suicides recorded in India in 2015. In all, 1.33 lakh people took their own lives in 2015. These are the five most counter-intuitive stories in the data
1. More people take their own lives than are murdered or killed in rail accidents in India, and for women it is the leading cause of 'unnatural' death.
2. India does have a suicide problem; while the suicide rate here is not the highest in the world (Japan, South Korea and Russia are higher), it is higher than many countries at comparable levels of development. The data for India here differs from the NCRB numbers because the World Health Organisation relies on a household survey that used 'verbal autopsies' to ascertain the cause of death.
3. But the problem isn't really escalating. The number of suicides in India is rising, but so is the population. As a result, the rate of suicides--number of suicides for every one lakh people--has not increased over the last ten years
4. Among the metros, Chennai has the highest suicide rate (26.1 for every 1 lakh people); among all million-plus cities, Durg-Bhilainagar in Chhattisgarh has the highest suicide rate followed by Kollam in Kerala and Rajkot in Gujarat. Among states, in general, the richer southern states have higher rates of suicide, but two states stand out for their unexpectedly high rates of suicide--Chhattisgarh and Telangana.
In both states, this high rate of suicides is driven by the large number of farmer suicides the states saw last year. Over 12,600 cultivators or agricultural labourers committed suicide in 2015, over a third of them in Maharashtra alone. Karnataka and Kerala followed as the states with the next highest numbers of suicides in the farming sector.
5. Daily wage earners, housewives and students are the most at-risk groups, the data implies. However, since the NCRB relies on police FIRs, these categories are likely to be overly broad.