September 10 is observed as World Suicide Prevention Day every year to highlight the alarming increase in suicides and ironically India is known as the Suicide Capital of the World.
A Mumbai based NGO ‘Vaastav Foundation‘ had conducted research on suicides in India alongwith a PhD scholar. The study was conducted on suicides over a period of past 50 years based on the data available with National Crime Records Bureau. The results were startling to say the least.
Below were the key observations:
- Suicides have gone up by 400% from a period of 1967 to 2013.
- The Suicide Rate per 100,000 population now exceeds 11 percent in 2013, up from 7%. It was highest in 2010 at 11.4%.
- The total number of suicides have decreased from 2011 to 2013 (135585 to 134799 persons).
- However suicides in men have increased in the same period (87839 to 90543 men).
- In the category of married people, suicides in married men was twice as compared to that of married women. (64098 married men vs 29491 married men).
- Financial trouble alone constituted to just 2% of the total suicides, contrary to the common belief.
The study attributed family problems (25%) and illness(20%) as the two main reasons for suicides.
“People don’t commit suicide to end their lives, they commit suicide to end their problems.”, says Amit Deshpande, President, Vaastav Foundation.
Reacting to the research, Bangalore based Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting president Kumar Jagirdhar had said, “It’s a shame that maximum suicides of the world occur in India. It’s also more unfortunate that married men are committing suicides due to domestic violence. It’s mainly due to gender-biased family laws.”
“India should have a national strategy for suicide prevention inline with the other 28 countries that have already successfully implemented it”, says Vaastav Foundation’s President Amit Deshpande.
He adds, “People don’t commit suicide to end their lives, they commit suicide to end their problems.”
In light of this situation, a few Men’s Rights Activists have come up with the below recommendations to tackle the rising suicides in India:
- India should have a national strategy for suicide prevention inline with the other 28 countries that have already successfully implemented it.
- Government should take immediate steps to prevent suicides by setting up a National Commission for Men or Purush Ayog on the lines of the existing National Commission of Women to look into the issues faced by men and in an effort to connect with men, which is currently non-existent. This is highly recommended as this would give men who currently suffer in silence a forum to communicate their concerns.
- Domestic Violence laws that currently meant only for protection of women should be made gender neutral and should address issues of domestic violence on men by their family members.
- National Family Health Survey which currently address issues of women and has a questionnaire with a view that only women are victims and only men are sources of unrest within a family should not only be made gender neutral, but should also have questions specifically drafted to address grievances of men within a family.
- To ensure lack of access/custody of the child doesn’t drive a parent to suicide, grant equal child access to mutually separated parents, and all custody related cases be disposed with six months, shared parenting being default.
- Scrap and redefine all existing laws related to dowry (Indian Penal Code 498a and Dowry Prohibition Act), ensuring that each newly drafted law has a strong misuse clause that acts as a deterrent to law-misusers and ensures victims of dowry as well as dowry-law-misuse don’t increase.
- Men alone need not be solely burdened with the responsibility of providing economic resources, especially in matters of relationship breakdowns. This needs to be shared between the partners, especially when the woman is capable of or known to be able to maintain herself.
- Suicidal tendencies should be categorized under mental disorders, just as anxiety, depression and other mental disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc. For same reasons, it’s imperative that Suicides be completely decriminalised by abolishing section 309 of the Indian Penal Code.
- A seperate law needs to be enforced to ensure the Health Insurance Marketplace extends it’s services to cover mental health services, substance use disorder (de-addiction) services and offer psychological counseling services to the policy holders.