Housewives and daily wage earners are the two groups most vulnerable to suicide in urban India, latest government data reveals.
According to fresh data released by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on suicides in cities in 2014, housewives and daily wage earners each account for 18 per cent — adding up to over one-third — of suicides in Indian cities. The data, collected from 53 cities across the country, examined 19,597 suicides across Indian cities, with housewives accounting for 3,501 while daily wagers for 3,460.
Salaried people, both government and those engaged in the private sector, made up the next largest group with 15 per cent. Within this group, those in the private sector accounted for over two-third of the sucide victims.
Unemployed people and students were next on the list, accounting for 10 and 9 per cent respectively.
“Some of the key factors that contribute to suicides include loneliness, a sense of alienation and the feeling of being uprooted,” said Anand Kumar, a retired professor of sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University. “All social groups go through bad times, but how they cope up decides their fate vis a vis suicides.”
With over 1,000 suicides by daily wagers, Chennai accounted for close to one-third of such suicides across Indian cities. It was distantly followed by Bengaluru with 366 and Durg-Bhilainagar with 164.
“The case of daily wage earners is complicated. They are already the poorest, but also have greater ability to withstand vulnerabilities of the labour market. But within daily wagers, different groups react differently to socio-economic pressures,” said Kumar.
“Married daily wagers living with family are less likely to commit suicide as compared to the single ones or those living without family,” he added. “Unfortunately, in cities most daily wagers belong to the last category. Suicide tendencies also increase when a daily wager finds himself ethnically isolated in a city.”
In case of housewives, the data has found Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai with a comparable number of suicides, each registering between 300 and 400. Housewives make up for 15 per cent of all suicide victims nationally but the proportion of suicides among them is higher in cities.
“Changing social structures, such as the advent of nuclear families in cities, may be one of the reasons for housewives being vulnerable in an urban setting. There aren’t enough cushions in the family to absorb the pressure in case there is disconnect from the husband,” Kumar said.
Among unemployed people, the most suicides were in Mumbai (301) followed by Delhi (257). Among students, the three cities with the highest number of suicides — Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai — were metropolises with several institutes and universities that attract students from across the country. They were closely followed by Ranchi and Durg-Bhilainagar, which accounted for more than 60 suicides each.