As many as 284 lives were lost last year to suicides in Jammu and Kashmir. The numbers are better than 2018 when 330 people ended their life, according to the latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau.
While statistics of 2019 may look better than the year earlier to it, losing as many lives due to the suicides remains alarming, considering that the Kashmiri language does not have a word for suicide which suggests that such a course was not experienced in the past. Also, the J&K is a predominantly Muslim society and there is a lot of stigma attached to such deaths.
Expectedly also, the figures are lower among the states or UTs with the lowest rates of suicide in the whole of India. However, it is not the case that J&K figures at the top of the list among the states or UTs with the lowest incidences of suicide.
As per the NCRB data, in the majority of suicides (94) in J&K, “causes are not known” while unemployment led 40 persons to end life and family problems led 37 others to take such recourse— a personal tragedy that prematurely takes the life of an individual and has a continuing ripple effect, dramatically affecting the lives of families, friends, and communities.
It is possible that the actual figures are higher in reality because suicide, much like mental illness and rape, is something that families try to cover up. What is telling, though, is that 14.08 percent of those who ended their lives were unemployed. This is not surprising given that joblessness touched a 45-year high last year across India and much less one talks about J&K would be more appropriate given what happened last year even though people in the valley are resilient despite suffering from the protracted problem.
In the Indian context, a total of 1,39,123 suicides were reported in 2019, recording an increase of 3.4 percent from 2018. Out of total 97,613 male suicides, the data shows that maximum were daily wage earners (29,092) followed by self-employed persons (14,319) and unemployed Persons (11,599).
The other causes, particularly for women, are gender-based discrimination, intimate partner violence, the shame attached to mental illness and the inability to ask for help. A total of 41,493 females committed suicides during 2019 in India with the highest number (21,359) being house-wives followed by students (4,772) and daily wage earners (3,467).
Suicides can be prevented with timely interventions through various measures in accordance with scientific principles. There is also a pressing need for linking mental health with the public health discourse.