A few suicides that caught media glare last 3 months:
- Congress VP, Rahul Gandhi, visited the family of a debt-ridden farmer in Punjab who committed suicide after losing crops due to unseasonal rain. [June '15]
- J Jayalalitha was sentenced in a case of DA in September '14. She was subsequently acquitted and re-throned as the CM. AIADMK announced that it has disbursed Rs. ~7Cr to the families of 244 persons who ended their lives at the news of her sentence. [May '15] In September '14, there were reports of at least 16 suicides within first 2 days of her conviction. <suicides-JJ-sentence>
- A farmer from Rajasthan committed suicide at a AAP rally in the presence of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, by hanging himself down from a tree. He had a story of debt plus damaged crops. [April '15]
These could have been 'normal' cases that never catch my eyes, had there not been divine glimpses of the political leaders, supernatural exhibitions by the media and profound analyses by the experts. I was data-mining on this form of unnatural death where the urge to kill rises within the deceased himself/herself.
- According to a WHO report, India recorded the highest number of suicides (above 2.5 Lacs) in the whole world during 2012. The rate of suicide was reported at ~21 (per 1Lac of population).
- It also estimated a whopping ~75% of all suicides globally to clutter around low- and middle-income countries.
- In India, a failed attempt to suicide was a criminal offense under IPC section 309 until Dec '14 when the government decided to repeal the section.
- Studies suggest that the two major reasons behind suicides in India in 2012 were family problems and illness, together accounting for ~45% of all cases. Bankruptcy, poverty accounted for only ~4%. There was a significant increase in the registered cases of suicide due to illegitimate pregnancy (~65%), fall in social reputation (~50%), career problems (~40%), divorce (~35%) and cancellation of marriage (~33%) in 2013 over 2012.
- Vidarbha region of Maharashtra is a suicide prone farming region for years.
India has a population close to 1.2bn which is ~17-18% of that of the world (~7bn). India is the second highest populated country after China. India does not have the highest suicide rate in the world, though the absolute count is consistently on the higher side.
All the above figures can be questioned. Reports can always be wrong, intentionally or unintentionally. The figures given out by the independent agencies vary widely. In 2012, the statistics provided by National Crime Records Bureau (attached to Ministry of Home Affairs) peg the estimated total number of suicides in India at ~1.35 Lacs and rate of suicides at 11.2 (per 1 Lac). It is unwise to expect high levels of accuracy in these figures due to various reasons ranging from practical difficulties in collecting the correct data to purposeful over- or under-statement of facts. The qualitative undertone, hopefully, is unperturbed by these sampling errors.
It’s hard to pin down takeaways from the above. The media chooses to highlight only a handful instances due to direct or indirect involvement of a news-makers. They have every right of segregating information from data in ways they prefer. So the statistics remain just a chunk of 'big data'. We can't infer much; my mining engineering skills make me a dull boy!
On a second thought, it’s a pretty straightforward conclusion if I oblige myself to listen, see and feel. Suicides have very little impact on the society or the system. There is no posthumous glory in it. Unrelated people hardly care about a death. It may, once in a million, do favors to leaders by flashing them in news and to the media who are constantly in search of stories. It usually causes irreversible damages to the immediate family or friends. Death is natural. There is no harm in waiting.
## My earliest memories of suicides are when a friend of mine jumped on a railway track after failing in a school exam and an uncle of my best friend hung himself from a fan after a few months of marriage. Both of these incidents resulted in great pain to the survived family/parents; much more than what the actors who ended their lives were undergoing in their last few days. I don't intend to hurt anyone who is alive but has lost someone close to this killer bug.