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India saw 7 bankruptcy suicides a day last year

The chances of a person being shot to death in India are less than half the chances of him/her committing suicide due to financial distress.

According to an analysis of data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), last year, 1,203 people died on account of firearms in India, translating into three such deaths a day. In the case of suicides on account of bankruptcy and changes in economic status, the number stood at 2,678, or seven a day.

The number of suicides due to bankruptcy rose 13.6 per cent compared to 2012, when 2,357 such cases were reported. The share of such suicides to overall suicides, however, remained constant — two out of every 100 suicides were on account of financial distress, the same as in the previous year.

The number of suicides rose from 120,488 to 134,799.

Two states accounted for about 60 per cent of bankruptcy-related deaths in 2013. The highest number of such cases was reported in Andhra Pradesh (1,044). This is primarily said to be due to the fact that the region has been in a state of flux on account of political turmoil over the creation of the new state of Seemandhra. Second in the list was Maharashtra (619).

Large cities accounted for 388 of the suicides due to bankruptcy. At 39, Mumbai accounted for the highest number of such cases. Next on the list were Vijayawada (33) and Hyderabad (29).

Dr Harish Shetty, social psychiatrist at L H Hiranandani Hospital, said financial distress had emerged as a major cause of such incidents on account of a breakdown in support structures, as families shrunk. “The first peak of such suicides was during the Harshad Mehta scam. People could not deal with their losses in the share market. We saw it again during the time of Ketan Parekh and then with the rise of globalisation. In recent times, inflation has been high; jobs have been unstable and EMIs (equated monthly instalments or loan payments) have been difficult to deal with for many people,” he said.

The largest section of those who committed suicides due to bankruptcy was in the age group of 30-44, accounting for 1,193 such cases. While 804 were between 45-59 years, 481 were aged 15-29. A total of 195 were senior citizens (aged 60 years or more). Five were aged 14 or less.

According to the analysis, when faced with bankruptcy, men were more likely to kill themselves than women — 2,361 of those who committed suicides under such circumstances were males. At 38 per cent, self-employed people account for the largest proportion of all suicide victims. Of these, 5.2 per cent were engaged in business, 2.9 per cent were professionals and 8.7 per cent were engaged in agriculture, according to NCRB data.


HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR PERSONAL FINANCIAL CRISES

  • Finances can go awry because of factors outside one’s control. Blame, shame and stigma should be avoided
  • Find somebody to talk  about your problems
  • People who attempt to hide from debtors are often under greater stress
  • Always answer phone calls from creditors and explain your difficulties
  • Act constructively to bring down living expenses
  • Dissociate oneself from any stigma associated with living in a less fancy neighbourhood
  • Don’t be ashamed to give up a luxury vehicle and travel by train instead

Based on inputs from Dr Harish Shetty, Social psychiatrist at L H Hiranandani Hospital

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