Stories in numbers: Biggest reasons for farm labour suicide is illness, family problems

3 out of 5 agricultural labourers who committed suicide were pushed by these factors, Maharashtra saw the most tragedies, 2015 NCRB data show.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi | Published: January 11, 2017 12:07:28 am
farmer suicide, farmer illness, maharashtra farmer suicide, maharashtra drought, marathwada drought, waterless marathwada, NCRB, family problems, no money, money crisis, indian express explained, india news Farm labourers are also more likely than farmers to fall into the trap of moneylenders and end their lives.

Agricultural labourers are more likely to commit suicide because of “Family Problems” and “Illness” than the rest of the population in India, latest data on suicides from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show.

Farm labourers are also more likely than farmers to fall into the trap of moneylenders and end their lives. While in absolute numbers, “Bankruptcy or Indebtedness from Financial Institutions” led to more suicides (155) in this social group than “Bankruptcy or Indebtedness from Non-Financial Institutions/Moneylenders” (100), the ratio of suicides linked to moneylenders to the total number of suicides linked to indebtedness (about 40%) was significantly higher among farm labourers than among farmers (302 out of 3,097, or less than 10%).

(For more on the links between suicides by farmers and debt, ‘In 80% farmer suicides due to debt, loans from banks, not moneylenders’, The Indian Express, January 7, 2016,

The 2015 NCRB data on suicides has for the first time fleshed out figures on agricultural labour suicides with the reasons for the tragedy.

According to the data, family problems (1,843, or 40.1%) and illness (872, or 19%) were responsible for nearly 60% of the deaths of the 4,595 farm labourers who ended their lives in 2015. This percentage was well above the national average of 43% — 27.6% due to family problems and 15.8% due to illness — for these reasons for suicide.

The NCRB data record 8,007 suicides by farmers across the country in 2015.

Other prominent causes of suicide among agricultural labourers were “Drug Abuse/Alcoholic Addiction” (312, or 6.8%), “Poverty” (178, or 3.9%), “Bankruptcy or Indebtedness from Financial Institutions” (3.4%), “Bankruptcy or Indebtedness from Non-Financial Institutions/Moneylenders” (2.2%), “Property Dispute” (93, or 2%) and “Marriage Related Issues (dowry-related issues, non-settlement of marriage, divorce/extra-marital affairs etc.)” (90, or 2%).

“Physical Abuse (Rape etc.)” led to 9 suicides of farm labourers, all of whom were male, according to the data. Seven of these were in Madhya Pradesh. “Other Causes” led to 615 suicides (13.4%) and, in 281 cases (6.1%), “Causes (were) Not Known”.

If all social categories across the country are considered, the reasons for suicide other than family problems and illness were: “Marriage Related Issues” (4.8%); “Bankruptcy” and “Love Affairs” (3.3% each); “Drug Abuse/Alcoholic Addiction” (2.7%); “Failure in Examination” and “Unemployment” (2% each); “Property Dispute” (1.9%), and “Poverty” (1.3%).

Statewise analysis of the data for agricultural labourers shows that 38.5% suicides in Maharashtra (486 out of 1,261 suicides), 47.4% in Madhya Pradesh (336 out of 709) and 56.6% suicides in Tamil Nadu (342 out of 604) were due to “family problems”.

Out of 4,595 suicides committed by agricultural labourers during 2015, 4,018 were male and 577 were female.

Agricultural labourers in Maharashtra were the most suicide prone (1,261), followed by Madhya Pradesh (709), Tamil Nadu (604), Andhra Pradesh (400), Karnataka (372), Gujarat (244) and Kerala (207).

These states together accounted for 82.6% of all such suicides (3,797 out of 4,595) in the country during 2015.

Goa, Manipur and West Bengal, besides all Union Territories except Puducherry, reported no incident of suicide by agricultural labourers during 2015.

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