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India records 171,000 suicides in 2022, highest ever: NCRB report

Research indicates that 50 to 90% of individuals who die by suicide suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder

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Nandini Singh New Delhi

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The recent suicide of a father-son duo in Mumbai has once again brought to light the public health crisis of suicide in India. Experts warn that this issue spans across all age groups, making it a significant challenge for the nation.

India holds the grim record for the highest number of suicides globally. According to an April report from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 171,000 people died by suicide in 2022 alone. This has resulted in a suicide rate of 12.4 per 100,000, the highest ever recorded in the country.

What is triggering this tragedy?

Health professionals highlight that depression is one of the primary drivers of suicides in India. Rajiv Mehta, vice-chairperson of the Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi, told IANS, “The most common underlying reason for suicide is depression which in layman’s language we say stress otherwise it can be due to impulsiveness or other factors also, but the majority are because of depression.” 

He noted that stressors related to work, finances, relationships, and health often contribute to severe stress, leading to anxiety, depression, and ultimately, suicide.

Suicide: India’s largest public health crisis

Research indicates that 50 to 90 per cent of individuals who die by suicide suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

“Today, suicide is the largest public health crisis facing India. It is the leading cause of death among youth,” said Shyam Bhat, psychiatrist and chairperson of LiveLoveLaugh. 

He explained that extreme stress from financial difficulties, medical conditions, or personal loss can lead to impulsive suicides. Additionally, loneliness and isolation are significant risk factors.

Shambhavi Jaiman, consultant psychiatrist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, echoed these concerns. She noted that, apart from mental health issues, factors such as economic stress, unemployment, financial instability, debt, family conflicts, and marital discord contribute to a sense of hopelessness.

Breaking the silence

Unfortunately, stigma and fear often shroud discussions about suicide, adding to its mystery and preventing many from seeking help. Bhat emphasised the importance of offering genuine support without judgment. “If you notice someone feeling depressed or down, encourage them. Help them connect with a mental health professional who can provide perspective and guidance,” he advised.

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First Published: Jul 11 2024 | 5:33 PM IST

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