In the year 2016, the 53 mega cities reported more than 20,000 suicides, accounting for 16% of all the suicides in India. The four metropolitan cities of Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai have reported more than 1000 suicides each in 2016. Family problems accounted for roughly 1/3rd of the suicides in these mega cities.
Suicides may be a result of numerous factors that take a toll on one’s emotions and thoughts. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that globally about 8 Lakh people die every year due to suicides.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) Accidental Deaths and Suicides India report, more than 1.31 Lakh suicides were reported in India in 2016. The suicide rate of India stood at 10.3 per lakh population. Suicide rate in cities was higher than the national average and stood at 13 suicides per lakh population. Family problems, Marriage related reasons, employment, indebtedness, and drug abuse are a few of the major reasons that drive individuals towards suicide. This story analyses the trends in suicides in major cities of India for the year 2016.
16% of Suicides take place in 53 major cities
A total of 20,879 suicides were reported across 53 major cities in 2016. This accounts for around 16% of the total suicides in the country. These 53 cities are those with more than 10 Lakh population each. It has to be noted that the number of cities part of this reporting was only 35 till 2010. This number increased to 53 starting in 2011.
In ten years, Suicides increased by 45.6% in Megacities as their number increases
Over the last decade, the number of suicides in the megacities has increased from 14,336 in 2007 to 20,879 in 2016, an increase of 46%. This is largely due to the increase in the number of cities reported in the NCRB. In 2007, only 35 cities were a part of this list while it increased to 53 in 2016.
During these years, the maximum number of suicides were reported in the year 2013 (21,313) when date from 53 cities was reported. The second-highest number of suicides was reported in 2016. Compared to 2015, the number of suicides in the 53 mega cities increased by more than 6% in the year 2016.
2016 reported the largest percentage share of Suicides in cities
The percentage share of suicides in cities (of the total number of suicides in India) was found to be the highest in 2016. As mentioned earlier, 15.9% of the suicides across the country were reported from these major cities in 2016 while the share of the population in these cities is around 13%. The least share of suicides from the cities was in the year 2010 when it was only 10.2%. However, it has to be noted that the number of cities part of this reporting was only 35 till 2010. This number increased to 53 starting in 2011.
1 in 10 Suicides in cities reported in Chennai
Chennai reported the highest number of suicide deaths in 2016 among cities. Suicides in Chennai alone contributed to 10% of the suicides in the 53 cities. The city of Delhi has reported the second-highest number of suicides among the cities, accounting for 9% of the total suicides reported in cities.
Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Delhi account for 33% of the Suicides in cities
The four metropolitan cities of Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai have reported more than 1000 suicides each in 2016. In fact, these four cities together constitute one-third of the total suicides reported in the country. This is also much higher than the numbers reported by many of the states.
Chennai accounted for more than 13% of suicide deaths reported in Tamil Nadu. Bengaluru contributed to 16.8% of the suicides in Karnataka, Mumbai accounted for 7% of the suicides in Maharashtra.
It is also observed that the suicides in Chennai and Bengaluru have reduced in 2016 by 10.8% and 3.3% respectively compared to 2015. But in Mumbai and Delhi, the number of suicides have shot up by 7.4% and 22.3% respectively compared to 2015.
Rate of suicide is highest in Durg Bhilainagar followed by Rajkot
However, the rate of suicides suggests that Durg Bhilainagar in Chhattisgarh had the highest rate of suicides at 36.5 suicides per lakh population in 2016. Chennai reported a suicide rate of 23.3 and Bengaluru reported a suicide rate of 21.1. Mumbai and Delhi with suicide rates of 6.5 and 11.6 respectively, reported a suicide rate less than the national average for cities.
Family problems were reported as the reason for one-third of suicides in cities
In terms of the cause of suicide, family problems were the most prominent reason. This alone accounted for 33% of suicides reported in these cities.
Illness such as AIDS/ STDs, Cancer, Mental illness and other prolonged illness-related reasons accounted for 17.7% of the suicides in 2016 in the 53 cities. A total of 3,691 suicide deaths were due to illness. Of this, mental illness accounted for 42.7% of the cases and prolonged illness accounted for 47%.
Other common causes of suicide include drug abuse/alcoholism, bankruptcy and indebtedness, unemployment, failure in examinations and career-related issues. Marriage related reasons accounted for 5.5% of the total suicides reported in the megacities. A total of 303 female victims and 37 male victims were reported to have taken their lives due to dowry related reasons.
Majority of the victims were male
Of the total number of suicide victims in 2016 in the 53 cities, 14,387 victims (68.9%) were male, 6484 victims (31%) were female and 8 were transgender. The cities also reported the death of 24 persons involved in 9 cases of mass suicide across six major cities.
Multipronged efforts needed to reduce this number
India accounts for 16% of suicides worldwide, roughly in proportion to its population share in the world population. The number of attempts to suicide is also large.
Suicides are preventable if the signs are identified early. Extending support to address some of the issues mentioned earlier could help the cause. Especially in the case of illnesses related suicides, counselling may help to a great extent. Societal pressure in cases of career, employment etc. also seems to be a significant reason for many suicides. Seeking help for psychological reasons is still a big social stigma in India. This can only be overcome if seeking help becomes mainstream.
An effective suicide prevention policy needs to be formulated to address the multitude of reasons for suicides.