The share of daily-wage earners among those who died by suicide has been steadily rising, doubling to 23.4 per cent in 2019 as compared to six years before.
At nearly a quarter of the suicides, or 32,563 of the total 1,39,123, the daily-wage earners comprised the largest chunk of such deaths recorded by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) last year. The data for daily-wage earners excludes agricultural labourers.
Tamil Nadu saw the most number of suicides by daily-wage earners (5,186), followed by Maharashtra (4,128), Madhya Pradesh (3,964), Telangana (2,858) and Kerala (2,809).
‘House wives’ made up the second largest chunk among suicide deaths, at 21,359 or 15.4 per cent of the total, in 2019. However, their share as well as that of those engaged in the farming sector in suicides has been declining. Agricultural labourers are a separate sub-category under persons working in the farming sector and accounted for 3.1 per cent of the total suicides in 2019.
The NRCB started categorising daily-wagers in its ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides’ data only in 2014. That year, they made up 12 per cent of suicide deaths, but the figure has been rising sharply since — 17.8 per cent in 2015, 19.2 per cent in 2016, 22.1 per cent in 2017, 22.4 per cent in 2018 and 23.4 per cent last year. In absolute terms too, the number of suicides by daily wagers doubled from 15,735 in 2014 to 32,563 in 2019.
The NCRB report divides suicides into nine categories — apart from daily wagers, housewives and persons engaged in the farming sector, the deaths are listed under professionals/salaried persons, students, self-employed persons, retired persons, unemployed and other persons.
“This data depicts only the profession of persons who have committed suicide and has no linkage whatsoever regarding cause of suicide,” notes the report.
The proportion of the unemployed in suicides in 2019 stood at 10.1 per cent, reaching double digits for the first time in the 25 years that the NCRB has been keeping data since 1995. The unemployed numbered 14,019 among the suicide deaths last year, a rise of 8.37 per cent from 2018’s figure of 12,936.
The five states accounting for most such deaths were Kerala (10,963 deaths), Maharashtra (1,511), Tamil Nadu (1,368), Karnataka (1,293) and Odisha (858).
The 2019 figure for the share of the unemployed in suicides crossed the previous high of 9.8 per cent, in 1997. The lowest figure — 6.9 per cent — was in 2007. While this figure hovered over 8 per cent between 1995 and 2004, it came down and remained below 8 per cent in 2005-14, and has been rising since.