Suicide rate of men outnumbers women in India

BANGALORE: Anita Gracias, a volunteer at Sahai helpline, got a desperate 6am call from Pune a few days ago. It was a 20-year-old student complaining of loneliness and a frequent urge to harm himself. 

“I counselled him. Loneliness is the biggest problem among young men these days,” says Anita. 

Of the 1.34 lakh people who committed suicide in the country in 2013, 64,098 were men and 29,491 were women as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Report 2013. The overall male:female ratio of suicide victims for the year was 67.2:32.8, showing a marginal increase of male and marginal decrease of female ratio as compared to 2012 (66.2:33.8).

The proportion of boys to girls (up to 14 years of age) was 53.5:46.5 in 2013 as compared to 48.4:51.6 in 2012. Over 80,000 were in the 15-44 age group, the most productive years of human life. Youths (15-29 years) and lower middle-aged people (3044 years) were the prime groups resorting to the extreme step. Around 34.4% of suicide victims were youths in the 15-29 age group and 33.8% were middle-aged people in the 30-44 age group. 

In India, as many as 15 suicides took place every hour last year. In 48.6 per cent of suicide cases, the causes are unknown. According to Dr G Gururaj, head of department, epidemiology, Nimhans, prevention of suicide becomes difficult if the reasons remain unknown.

“The reasons attributed by NCRB for reported suicides are vague. A blanket head like family problems does not convey much. Besides, it has only captured the cases reported, whereas many suicides go unreported. There would be a minimum 10 attempts before actual suicide. Not every suicide is an impulsive act. The person who does it might even have thought about it for at least two years but the warning signs may have been ignored by family members,” says Dr Gururaj. 

Any rapid transformation in society is accompanied by stress and it’s never smooth, says Dr A Jagadish, psychiatrist from Abhaya hospital. “Economic downturn and relationships are major issues among those who come with depression. If an adult man thinks of self-harm, he does inflict it most often,” he adds. 

A 42-year-old patient of his attempted suicide thrice as he found it difficult to cope with his brother’s unemployment and related problems, he recalls. 

Dr S G Murali Raj, head of the department of psychiatry, Manipal Hospitals, says women can manage a relationship breaking up better than men. “Suicides among men can also be attributed to alcohol-induced depression. Men are more prone to alcohol addiction leading to poor impulse control,” he adds.

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