Thirty six-year-old Shivani (name changed) had been married for 16 years. From the early years of the marriage, she had been depressed because her husband and his family ill-treated her and confined her to their house in Rohtak, Shivani said. Her husband would insult her for being overweight and falling sick often. In August 2017, Shivani took an overdose of sleeping pills in a bid to kill herself.
Shivani’s mother-in-law found her unconscious with an empty pack of sleeping pills and called her brother. She was admitted to the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital, where the doctor brought her back to consciousness. Shivani lived.
She is one of the 2,075 Indians who tried to commit suicide in 2018, but failed. These people are only a fraction of those who managed to take their own lives (134,516), according to the the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. A large number of them were housewives — in 2018, around 63 housewives killed themselves every day, on average, making up 17.1 per cent of all the suicides. Since 2001, more than 20,000 housewives have committed suicide every year in India. This is second only to daily wage earners — who killed themselves because of unemployment, the agrarian crisis, and the slow growth of the unorganised sector, putting them at risk of poverty and depression.
Over one third (36.6 per cent) of suicides by women in the world in 2016 were in India, up from 25.3 per cent in 1990, according to a 2018 Lancet report. Married women account for the highest proportion of suicides among women in India because of reasons, such as early arranged marriages, young motherhood, low social status, domestic violence, and economic dependence, the report said.
In Shivani’s case, the hospital called the police but she and her family signed a letter, which stated that her husband was not the reason she tried to kill herself and no case was filed.
Data and text: Indiaspend