Life – You’re Worth It

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The Author
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Matilda Yorke
Freelance Writer & Editorial Consultant – Bangalore


September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day.  The theme this year is Life ? You’re Worth It. 


Irish Archbishop Sean Brady recently said: "The danger signs of suicide must be treated with the same vigour as the issue of reducing road deaths," Reality however is very different. From these figures, it is evident, that campaigns on suicide prevention are needed to bring about awareness.  


In the world, one million people died from suicides with a mortality rate of 16/100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. In India, nearly 110,000 suicides were reported during the year 2003. The number of deaths because of suicides has increased from nearly 40,000 in 1980 to 110,000 during 2003. There has been a sudden and unprecedented increase in suicides in India from 1990 onwards. The number of attempted suicides are estimated to be 20 times this number (approximately 2 million) and those with suicidal intentions 50 times this number (estimated to be 5 million), respectively. The number of suicidal deaths in urban areas is 10% of the total with the remaining occurring in semi-rural, peri-urban and rural areas.


Says Dr. Gururaj, G., Professor & Head, Department of Epidemiology, NIMHANS, "We have started taking suicides in our stride and accepting it as part of living.  Just as we protest about bad roads, lack of public amenities, environmental awareness and sex education, suicide prevention awareness must also figure prominently in our campaigns."


Moreover what is alarming is that since 1995, there is a major change in the profile of those attempting self-harm.  It is the age group of 15 to 45 years that are at high risk.  A study conducted by NIMHANS revealed that 66% of those who have committed suicide occurred in the age group of 15-44, the prime period of their lives; 35% in the age group of 15 – 29 years included teenagers and young adults facing relationship, academic and peer pressures along with poor coping abilities and lack of support systems.  Suicides among children and elderly constituted 2% and 10%.   The male to female distribution was 60% and 40% respectively.


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Karnataka has been one of the states reporting high rates of suicides since 1995 onwards. Consistently, data from National Crime Records Bureau indicate that Karnataka is one among the top five states reporting highest number of suicides. From nearly 8820 suicides in 1996, the number has increased to around 12,361 during 2003 (figure 1). The annual incidence rate of suicides for 2003 was 21/1,00,000/yr. 


Bangalore has been rated as one of the cities with highest suicides in the country with nearly 1500 deaths during 2003. This is an increase from 474 deaths in 1981 to 1500 in 2003. The annual incidence of suicides in Bangalore was, 26/100,000.


Do these figures frighten you?  Or do you feel, "Oh! Why bother!  Something like this does not pertain to my family or friend circle."  Don’t blame you.   There are many myths about suicides.  Self-harm is not a problem related to class or gender.  To live or not to live, to be or not to be, is on the rise in cities, where lives have become a rat-race and people are stressed out, and do not know how to cope with their worries.


Statistics are from NIMHANS

Author: Matilda Yorke- Bangalore