Suicides in India rose 10 per cent from 2019 to an all-time high of 1,53,052 in the pandemic year of 2020, with student suicides seeing the highest percentage increase at 21.20 per cent, according to the latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
In terms of absolute numbers, daily wage earners made up the largest share of total suicides at 37,666 in 2020, according to the ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India, 2020’ report.
The increase in suicides recorded in 2020 was the highest since 1982, when it increased by 11.15 per cent to 44,732 from 1981.
The suicide rate (number of suicides per lakh population) has also gone up from 10.4 per cent in 2019 to 11.3 per cent in 2020.
The share of students in the total suicides has been rising steadily over the years and has now reached the highest level since 1995, the earliest year for which this data is available in public domain.
Student suicides rose from 10,335 in 2019 to 14,825 in 2020. Their share in total suicides also went up from 7.4 per cent to 8.2 per cent during this period, shows NCRB report.
The NCRB report divides suicides into nine categories — apart from daily wagers, housewives and people working in the farm sector, the deaths are listed under ‘professionals/salaried persons’, ‘students’, ‘self-employed persons’, ‘retired persons’, and ‘others’.
NCRB started categorizing daily wagers in its ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides’ data only in 2014. The share of daily wage earners among those who died by suicide has doubled between 2014 and 2020.
In 2014, the share of daily wage earners in all suicides was 12 per cent, which steadily went up to 17.8 per cent in 2015, 19.2 percent in 2016, 22.1 percent in 2017, 22.4 per cent in 2018 and 23.4 percent in 2019.
The data for 2020 show that Tamil Nadu had the greatest number of suicides by daily wage earners (6,495), followed by Madhya Pradesh (4,945), Maharashtra (4,176), Telangana (3,831) and Gujarat (2,754).
In terms of the percentage share, the daily wage earners category is followed by ‘housewives’ (14.6 per cent), self-employed persons (11.3 per cent), farmers/cultivators (7 per cent) and retired persons (1 per cent). 13.4 per cent suicide victims were categorized as ‘others’.
Among other categories, the professional/salaried persons group registered an increase of 16.50 percent in suicides–from 12,725 in 2019 to 14,825 in 2020– and their share marginally went up from 9.1% to 9.7%.
The unemployed persons group saw an increase in suicides by 11.65 per cent – from 14,019 in 2019 to 15,562 in 2020– and their proportion went up slightly to 10.2 percent from 10.1 percent in 2019, continuing in double digits for the second consecutive year.
In 2020, the number of suicides in other groups was increased by 4.75% in the ‘House wife’ category; 7.67% in the ‘self-employed persons’ category; 11.90 in ‘retired persons’; and 3.85% in the ‘persons engaged in farming sector’.
The report also gives data on the deaths caused by accidents. The data shows that the number of accidental deaths came down to 3,74, 397 in 2020 from 4,21,014 in 2019– a decline of 12.47%–, which is the lowest since 2010 when the figure was recorded 3,84,649. The rate of accidental death (accidental death per lakh) has also come down to 27.7% in 2020 from 31.4% in 2019.