CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has been among the top two ranks in the list of states with highest suicide rates for six years now. Student suicides, particularly, have gone up from 2014 to 2016, at a rate of about two, every 24 hours.
“In 2014, 8,068 students committed suicide in India, the number increased to 8,934 in 2015, and 9,474 in 2016. A total of 1,350 students ended their lives in Maharashtra in 2016. In the same year, West Bengal witnessed the second highest number of student suicides (1,147), followed by Tamil Nadu (981),” quoted Union minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir responding to a written question by a Rajya Sabha MP on student suicides. As far as total suicide rate is concerned, deaths have doubled in the last two decades in Tamil Nadu.
According to the last report by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), released in 2015, the state has continuously accounted for nearly 12 per cent of the total suicides from 2013 to 2015.
Suicides among students are typically attributed to depression, academic pressure, family expectations, inability to cope with stress, social isolation and substance abuse.
“There is an over-emphasis on academic excellence which is used to determine the worth of a child by both parents and teachers. Overburdening the child with their expectations can induce impulsive suicidal thoughts due to fear of failure,” said Dr Vivian Kapil, psychiatrist, SIMS Hospital.
Also, psychologists say those aged around 10 years do not have avenues to vent out their feelings. They isolate themselves and eventually fall into depression, which is another major cause of suicide. While the mode of suicides in the cities in Tamil Nadu are primarily hanging, poisoning and self immolation, rural victims mostly consume pesticides as means to end their lives.
Cop suicides have been on the rise in Tamil Nadu, lately. According to a report by ministry of Home Affairs, as many as 166 police personnel ended their lives in Tamil Nadu between 2010 and 2014. The primary reason was found to be stress.
Despite so many suicides, the state, and the country, both still face an acute shortage of mental health professionals. According to a reply by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the Lok Sabha in December 2015, there are only 3,800 psychiatrists, 898 clinical psychologists, 850 psychiatric social workers, and 1,500 psychiatric nurses in the country.
(Numbers for 2017 and 2018 are yet to be updated )