Extreme wet conditions during cultivation months have been linked to an increase in the number of suicides among adults living in rural parts of India, an international study has found.
Between 2001 and 2013, a total of 9,456 adult suicides were linked to changes in water availability (excess) during the cultivation months spanning between June and March in the country.
The study led by Columbia University noted deaths by suicide were almost equal among both men and women aged between 15 and 40 years, during these months.
Researchers say that mitigating extensive wet conditions was a tougher challenge than surviving extreme dry conditions like droughts.
“Very wet conditions could be especially damaging to crops because of limited means to mitigate conditions. While extreme drought might be offset by irrigation, extreme wet conditions – such as flooding or torrential rain – may result in conditions that are less easily mitigated and more devastating to crops,” the paper published in Environmental Research read.
But, it is not the extreme wet conditions alone that drove Indian adults to suicide, said lead author Robin Richardson from the Department of Epidemiology at Columbia University.
“Wet conditions may truly lead to a higher risk of suicide than extremely dry conditions in India. One key factor could be reduced agricultural yields. Some factors, as noted from research in other countries, were cloud cover and temperature affecting suicide risk,” Richardson told in an email reply to The Indian Express.
Contributing factors, leading to such a drastic step, can also include damage to house, poor farm income causing distress in repayment of farm loans and more, said senior scientist Vimal Mishra from Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.
Meteorologists have established that the extreme rainfall events in India are on a rise. Minister for Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan, on Thursday, mentioned in the Rajya Sabha that there has been a 100 per cent rise in ‘extreme rainfall’ (more than 244.5 mm in 24 hours) events and a 67 per cent rise in ‘very heavy rainfall’ (124 mm to 244 mm in 24 hours) events between 2017 and 2019.
Annually, Indian districts experienced more wet than dry conditions, according to scientists, who studied deaths from 569 districts.
“Around 1.7 per cent districts experienced extreme dry conditions whereas 6.6 per cent districts reported exceptionally wet conditions,” one of the scientists said.
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