Razor's edge

Four charts show why India's youth suicide rate is among the world's highest

As government moves to decriminalise suicide, a reminder: the stresses of economic and social transition are killing the country's young people.

On Wednesday, the government announced it would decriminalise suicide. It is the rational thing to do: after all, those who attempt suicide do so for lack of social, economic and emotional resources. It will also ensure that young Indians under stress are not punished for cracking. After all, India has one of the world’s highest rate of suicides among people aged between 15 years and 29 years.

Each year, between 30 and 40 people per 100,000 Indians aged between 15 and 29 kill themselves. This accounts for about a third of all suicides in the country.

India's suicides are a result of its traditionalist middle-income residents transitioning to an increasingly globalised landscape, experts say. One striking fact when considering the suicide deaths per 100,000 people of that age-group is that the figures are higher in the better-off southern states and the lowest in the Hindi heartland.

The strains are obvious from this chart.


A common cause for concern is the pressure from parents to do well in the national board examinations, especially for Class XII, before finishing school. As scores in these exams often determine college admissions and subsequent employment opportunities, students aged 16-18 are often subjected to undue pressure at home to succeed. When they don't, suicide becomes a way out. In 2013 alone, 2,471 suicides were attributed to "failure in examination".

Moreover, the consequences of gender bias are among the leading cause of suicides among young women, say psychiatrists such as Rajiv Radhakrishnan of the Yale University School of Medicine and Chittaranjan Andrade of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru.



Independent decision-making, wanting to postpone marriage and premarital sex are some factors that clash with traditional parenting styles, while physical and mental abuse and mental disorders could exacerbate suicidal tendencies.

A study conducted in Goa in 2008 studied to what extent these factors were more prevalent among women than among men.

 


The same study found that independent decision-making, rural residence and premarital sex were the strongest precipitators of suicidal tendencies.

Among men, however, the stories are different. As data from the National Crime Records Bureau shows, suicide is more prevalent toward south India, which has better economic indicators than the rest of the country on average.

 


According to data from the NCRB for 2013 and a World Health Organisation report for 2012, alcoholism among men between the ages of 15 and 59 years and suicide rates among men of the same age group rise and fall together. However, the data sets do not have an age-wise breakdown, so this covariance could be no more than indicative of other issues.

The same WHO report, released in September, noted that 75% of the world’s suicides happen in low- and middle-income countries. It also says that  “suicide rates are highest in persons aged 70 years or over for both men and women in almost all regions of the world”. But this is not true for India.

There is an immediate explanation for why India’s elderly have it better than India’s young. Taking care of the elderly has been an important part of Indian familial traditions. Their needs are widely recognised and addressed, and they enjoy a measure of respect by virtue of their age.

The clash of values within families is an important factor for young people in their lives. As young Indians becomes more progressive, their traditionalist households become less supportive of their choices pertaining to financial independence, marriage age, premarital sex, rehabilitation and taking care of the elderly.

It is probably for these reasons that, according to the NCRB, the most common reason cited for a suicide was "family problems".

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Movies can make you leap beyond what is possible

Movies have the power to inspire us like nothing else.

Why do we love watching movies? The question might be elementary, but one that generates a range of responses. If you had to visualise the world of movies on a spectrum, it would reflect vivid shades of human emotions like inspiration, thrill, fantasy, adventure, love, motivation and empathy - generating a universal appeal bigger than of any other art form.

“I distinctly remember when I first watched Mission Impossible I. The scene where Tom Cruise suspends himself from a ventilator to steal a hard drive is probably the first time I saw special effects, stunts and suspense combined so brilliantly.”  

— Shristi, 30

Beyond the vibe of a movie theatre and the smell of fresh popcorn, there is a deeply personal relationship one creates with films. And with increased access to movies on television channels like &flix, Zee Entertainment’s brand-new English movie channel, we can experience the magic of movies easily, in the comforts of our home.

The channel’s tagline ‘Leap Forth’ is a nod to the exciting and inspiring role that English cinema plays in our lives. Comparable to the pizazz of the movie premieres, the channel launched its logo and tagline through a big reveal on a billboard with Spider-Man in Mumbai, activated by 10,000 tweets from English movies buffs. Their impressive line-up of movies was also shown as part of the launch, enticing fans with new releases such as Spider-Man: Homecoming, Baby Driver, Blade Runner 2049, The Dark Tower, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Life.

“Edgar Wright is my favourite writer and director. I got interested in film-making because of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the dead. I love his unique style of storytelling, especially in his latest movie Baby Driver.”

— Siddhant, 26

Indeed, movies can inspire us to ‘leap forth’ in our lives. They give us an out-of-this-world experience by showing us fantasy worlds full of magic and wonder, while being relatable through stories of love, kindness and courage. These movies help us escape the sameness of our everyday lives; expanding our imagination and inspiring us in different ways. The movie world is a window to a universe that is full of people’s imaginations and dreams. It’s vast, vivid and populated with space creatures, superheroes, dragons, mutants and artificial intelligence – making us root for the impossible. Speaking of which, the American science fiction blockbuster, Ghost in the Shell will be premiering on the 24th of June at 1:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M, only on &flix.

“I relate a lot to Peter Parker. I identified with his shy, dorky nature as well as his loyalty towards his friends. With great power, comes great responsibility is a killer line, one that I would remember for life. Of all the superheroes, I will always root for Spiderman”

— Apoorv, 21

There are a whole lot of movies between the ones that leave a lasting impression and ones that take us through an exhilarating two-hour-long ride. This wide range of movies is available on &flix. The channel’s extensive movie library includes over 450 great titles bringing one hit movie premiere every week. To get a taste of the exciting movies available on &flix, watch the video below:

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of &flix and not by the Scroll editorial team.