BENGALURU: More than 10,600 people died by suicide because they were either unemployed, poor, or, due to bankruptcy and indebtedness in 2020, recording an increase of 8% compared to 9,881 deaths by suicide attributed to these causes collectively in 2019.
The latest government statistics on the matter show that on average, more than one person died by suicide every hour because of these causes in 2020. While the number of suicides due to bankruptcy or indebtedness reduced to 5,213 in 2020 from 5,908 in the previous year, deaths due to poverty and unemployment both recorded an increase.
If the decrease in deaths by suicide due to bankruptcy was 11%, the increase in deaths due to poverty went up by 69% to 1,901 in 2020 from 1,122 in 2019, while suicides due to joblessness recorded a 24% jump (3,548 from 2,851).
Of the 10,622 deaths attributed to these causes collectively in 2020, those related to bankruptcy and indebtedness account for nearly half (49%), while a third of them (3,548) were because of unemployment. Poverty pushed 1,901 people to suicide.
Psychiatrists TOI spoke with pointed out that both the “haves and have-nots” get affected by financial uncertainty, especially if they have families. They said that in many cases, those who lived a decent life and are now deprived of the same appear less capable of coping with such uncertainty.
Suicides attributed to these causes together accounted for 7% of the total number of suicides — more than 1.5 lakh — reported in the country in the pandemic year. Comparatively, they accounted for 8% of the 1.3 lakh suicides reported in 2019.
Over 45k Deaths Since 2015
Analysis of data since 2015 shows that a total of 45,406 people died by suicide due to these causes collectively, with those relating to bankruptcy accounting for nearly 65% or 29,218 deaths, followed by unemployment (36% or 16,565 cases).
While ignorance and social stigma (about mental health issues) prevent people in general from seeking treatment, Psychiatrists said that in these cases individuals severely depressed also find it financially unviable to consult experts.
Data shows that while there are some fluctuations in cases relating to each of these causes individually, collectively, they have been increasing each year after 2016 (see graphic). In that year, the total suicides due to these reasons had dipped by 18% to touch 7,179. From there, it jumped 22% in 2017, by another 2% in 2018, 11% in 2019 and 8% in 2020, the year with the highest deaths in the said period.
Age & State Analysis
Of the suicides because of these causes in 2020, most deaths, not surprisingly, occurred in the age group of 30-44 years followed by those aged 18 years and 29 years. The least deaths were among those below the age of 18 and above 60 years of age.
Those aged between 30 years and 44 years accounted for nearly 40% of such suicides (4,218), while those 18 but under 30 years of age accounted for 29% (3,065).
Further, nearly 70% or 7,415 of all such suicides were reported in the four southern states — Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh — and Maharashtra. When it comes to bankruptcy-related deaths, almost nine out of 10 deaths were reported in these states, while it was 53% for poverty deaths and 50.5% for deaths due to unemployment.