HYDERABAD: A 10 per cent drop in female suicide death rate over a period of 26 years in the two Telugu states can be, without doubt, termed a dismal rate of improvement. A new report by the Lancet Health Journal titled “Gender differentials and state variations in suicide deaths in India” shows that Telangana hasn’t fared much better. The report, one in the series of its ‘Global Burden of Disease Study for years 1990-2016’ highlights that a majority of the world’s female suicide deaths are reported from India: four in every 10 women who commit suicide globally are from India.
The study, that reflects NCRB data from 1990 and 2016 of each Indian State, specifically highlights the sorry state of affairs in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana where the female SDR is pegged at 21 and 19.8 per 1 lakh women. This makes AP and TS the 5th and 6th worst states in the entire country respectively, where the average rate of suicide deaths has been 14.9 per 1 lakh women.
The numbers being way higher than the national average, the study points that the States’ poor performance in tackling the issue has been so bad that it would not be able to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 which mandates that the suicide rates have to be reduced by one-third.
Sorry state of affairs
Giving a perspective on how bad the numbers are, the study shows how India’s contribution to global suicides among women increased from 25.3 per cent in 1990 to 36 per cent in 2016. This, despite the fact that the overall suicide rates fell from 19.4 to 14.9, implying that globally suicide rates fell, including in India, however India’s drop in suicide rates wasn’t good enough when compared to the rest of the world. The study says, “The findings highlight that suicide death rates were higher in India than the global average in 2016, and most states had SDR much higher than what would be expected for their Socio-demographic Index level.”
The study termed suicide as a public health crises because majority of the victims were young women, and it was the leading cause of death among young adults. “Young adults are taking their lives in alarmingly high numbers... Suicide ranks first as the cause of death in India in both the age groups of 15-29 years and 15-39 years, as compared with its second and third rank globally in these age groups, respectively.”
Kalpana Kannabiran, Professor & Regional Director of Council for Social Developmental, says that the trends suggest a major roll back of what we perceived as challenges to women’s issues. “It seems to be more than one factor coming together to make it a hostile environment for women. Initially, we thought it is lack of education that creates a major part of the issue. But, it is linked to a host of factors like child marriage, conservatism, educated women being forced into domestic roles among others making women to find death a more secular choice than life.”