An Introduction to SUICIDE

Examples From Around The World

Do Not Be Afraid
Suicide's Primary Cause
The Paradox of Suicide
Suicide is always premature
Examples From Around The World
The TRUE Scale of Suicide is Unknowable
Suicide Statistics Mislead
What constitutes suicide
What constitutes Attempted Suicide?
When Suicide Fails


It is estimated that over 100000 people die by suicide in India every year. India alone contributes to more than 10% of recognised suicides in the world. ...


  • Out of every three cases of suicide reported every 15 minutes in India, one is committed by a youth in the age group of 15 to 29.
  • In the Union Territory of Pondicherry, every month at least 15 youths between the ages of 15 and 25 commit suicide.
  • In 2002, there were 10,982 suicides in Tamil Nadu, 11,300 in Kerala, 10,934 in Karnataka, and 9,433 in Andhra Pradesh.
  • In 2003, the largest number of farmers -- around 175 -- committed suicide in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Kerala, the country's first fully literate state, has the highest number of suicides. Some 32 people commit suicide in Kerala every day.

These statistics are startling. Southern India is the country's information technology hub. The southern region is competing with northern India to become the country's economic powerhouse.

But south India has another distinction, one that it would rather not have: the region accounts for the world's largest number of suicides by young people, according to The Lancet, the respected British medical journal.

Some 50,000 people in the four states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and the Union Territory of Pondicherry kill themselves every year. This statistic becomes even more alarming when you consider that the total number of suicide cases recorded in the whole of India in 2002 was 154,000.

The Lancet has published an authoritative study on suicides in southern India in its April edition. The study says the suicide rates among young men and women in southern India are the highest in the world.

The study conducted by the Vellore-based Christian Medical College on teenagers in Tamil Nadu, especially in the Vellore region, found that the average suicide rate for women is as high as 148 per 100,000, and 58 per 100,000 for men.

Worldwide, this rate is 14.5 per 100,000. Also, in the West, men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," says Dr S K Vijayachandran, nodal officer for Kerala's district mental health programme. "It is not youngsters alone. More people in the southern states belonging to every walk of life are killing themselves than in other regions in India."

For instance, the suicide rate in Kerala was about 32 per 100,000 persons in 2002, thrice the rate in India as a whole. "This is a huge problem," Dr Vijayachandran says, "which requires urgent intervention."

Experts like him put forward various reasons for the dismal state of mental health among people in the South. Some of these reasons, which mental health experts term 'acute stress factors,' include:

  • Family conflicts, domestic violence, academic failures, and unfulfilled romantic ideals.
  • Voracious appetite for high-end consumer goods spurred by moneylenders and hire-purchase schemes.
  • The wide gap between people's aspirations and actual capabilities.
  • The disintegration of traditional social support mechanisms as was prevalent in joint families.
  • Emergence of a trend towards nuclear families, alcohol abuse, financial instability and family dysfunction.
  • A growing population of the aged.
  • Failure of crops, huge debt burdens, growing costs of cultivation, and shrinking yield.

Two years ago, the National Crime Records Bureau noted that out of every three cases of suicide reported every 15 minutes in the country, one involves a youth in the age group of 15 to 29. 'Youth and middle-aged (30 to 44 years) are the prime groups taking recourse to the path of suicide. Of the total suicide victims, around 37.6 per cent are youths in the age group of 15 to 29 years,' the Bureau said in a report.

Interestingly, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which have much higher populations and far lower levels of literacy, report fewer suicides. In 2002, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar accounted for 4.8 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively, of the total number of suicides in the country.

But not everyone is convinced by these figures. "In northern Indian states, there is low level of registration of suicide deaths in police stations," says Sunder Rajan, a retired Tamil Nadu police officer. "Therefore, no figures about suicides in the country can be relied upon for any scientific analysis of the problem."

On its part, the National Crime Records Bureau has one main reason for the increasing suicide rate in the country: 'Family problems.'

Psychologist Mathew Kurien of the Southern Medical Centre, Bangalore, agrees. "In this modern age," Dr Kurien says, "children are not brought up peacefully. They are under pressure to deliver at school; they are under pressure to appear for competitive examinations. After they reach puberty, no one in the family gives them any advice about the meaning of life."

Dr Kurien's argument is borne out by the fact that every year, when the results of secondary and intermediate school examinations are announced, counselling centres across the country are flooded with distress calls from students. "I get hundreds of calls from students who are contemplating suicide because they could not achieve the good scores expected by their parents," says Elizabeth Vadakkekara, co-ordinator at Thrani, a counselling centre in Thiruvananthapuram.

Vadakkekara says the only way to make India, especially the southern region, less suicide prone is "to make life easy." Of course, that is easier said than done.


Suicides in China

Posted on September 16th, 2006 by The China Expat.
Categories: All Posts, Chinese Translations, China Stories.

The following article was translated from the September 16, 2006 edition of 周末画报 (Modern Weekly) by The China Expat from Chinese into English. 周末画报 itself got the article from NPR TV.

The Suicide Watchman of Nanjing’s Big Bridge

Nanjing’s Big Bridge was once considered the pride of Chinese engineering, it being the longest railway bridge in the world. But now this bridge that crosses the Yangtze river has become one of China’s hottest suicide spots. At the same time that economic development is bringing positive changes to people’s lives in China, it is also bringing new pressures: The old system whereby China’s government provided a minimum guaranteed living standard is gone forever, now people must work at a feverish pace to make it. The suicide rate among Chinese men aged 15-34 is somewhat greater than in the past.

Every weekend over the past three years, 39 year old Chen En has riden his motorcycle to the Nanjing bridge to do his rounds. If any desperate looking people come along, he goes up to them and prevents them from crossing the bridge. Chen En reflected: “The emotions of young people today are too fragile. Nowadays they are not good at dealing with pressure, especially those from the generation of single child families.” Up until now, he has already saved 99 people. Chen En told the reporter: “This is really a life and death battle. Sometimes they are already hanging off the bridge, and I can only reach over to pull them back in. Sometimes I have already pulled them back in, but the moment I look away or am distracted by something momentarily, they jump.”

Every time that Chen En saves a life, he feels his burden has gotten a little heavier. His wife doesn’t approve of him spending so much time patrolling the bridge, and Chen En wishes that a humanitarian group could provide some help. He told the reporter: “What can I do for the people that I saved?? I don’t hope that I have only tricked them into living a day longer, but I don’t have that much money [to help them].”


WHO urges ban on some pesticides to curb suicides
09 Nov 2006 10:12:39 GMT
Source: Reuters

 HONG KONG, Nov 9 (Reuters) - About half of the people in developing countries in Asia who kill themselves do it using pesticides, prompting the World Health Organisation to urge governments to ban or regulate their use.

Jose Bertolote, WHO coordinator of mental and brain disorders, cited studies showing nearly everyone who committed suicide acted on impulse and their deaths could have been prevented if lethal chemicals had not been available.

"We have very good studies interviewing people between the act of ingesting pesticides and their deaths. More than 95 percent are desperate when they learn they are going to die," Bertolote told Reuters on the sidelines of a suicide prevention forum in Hong Kong on Thursday.

"They did not want to die, and that's the tragedy."

While people who take sleeping pills can be saved, those who use pesticides tend to be rural folk who would have died by the time their families get them to hospital.

"If in despair you drink pesticide, you die in three hours and we know from surveys the vast majority of these people did not have the intention to die and they did not know it would be so lethal ... all they wanted was some attention," he added.

In absolute numbers, China has the highest number of suicides in the world, with 250,000 cases a year, followed by India with 87,000 and Russia with 57,800.

But in terms of population-based figures, Sri Lanka leads with 36.2 suicides per every 100,000 people, followed by Japan with 34.21 and South Korea with 28.05.

More than 60 percent of suicides in China are committed using pesticides, similar to Sri Lanka.

In India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, between 40 and 50 percent of suicides are committed using pesticides.

Bertolote singled out organophosphorous-based pesticides as a main source of trouble. Although the substance has been banned by international conventions, some countries, such as China, are still producing, exporting and using it.

In villages in many parts of Asia, cans of such pesticides can be found right next to bottles of condiments, Bertolote said.

"Governments have to ratify the conventions and ban class 1 organophosphorous pesticides, make them illegal, stop legal production, curb illegal production and stop any smuggling of the product," he said.

For less toxic pesticides, he urged governments to issue better instructions on their use and storage.