Indian suicide rates are among the highest in the world – suicide is the second leading cause of death among young adults in India. In a study published in Globalisation and Health, a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge and University College London used suicide figures from 18 Indian states, as well as national crime and census statistics, and Ministry of Agriculture surveys to model the patterns of suicide across India. They found that those at highest risk were farmers who grow cash crops such as coffee and cotton; those with ‘marginal’ farms of less than one hectare; and those with debts of 300 rupees or more. These characteristics accounted for almost three quarters of the state-level variability in suicides.
‘Many believe that the opening of markets and scaling back of state support following the liberalisation of the Indian economy led to an “agrarian crisis” in rural India – which has resulted in these shocking numbers of suicide among Indian agricultural workers,’ said the study’s lead author, Jonathan Kennedy.
This story was published in the June 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine