Suicides In India: Daily Wage Earners, Self-Employed, Unemployed Died Most By Suicide In 2021, Says NCRB Data

Around 64% of suicide victims in 2021 had annual income of under Rs 1 lakh and around 31% of men dying by suicides were daily wage earners. Maharashtra reported the highest number of suicides among all the states, followed by Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

A group of daily wage labourers

Daily wage earners, self-employed persons, and the unemployed were the top three categories of people who died of suicide in 2021.

Of the total 1,18,970 men who died by suicide in 2021, daily wage earners were the highest with 37,751, followed by followed by self-employed persons at 18,803 and unemployed persons at 11,724, according to recently-released National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data.

Men were the overwhelming victims of suicdes as of the total 1,64,033 victims, 1,18,970 were men and 45,026 were women. 

The data for 2021 is in line with that of 2020 as daily wage earners, self-employed persons, and the unemployed had topped the suicide victims that year as well. Officials last year had said that pandemic-induced economic loss could have been a driving factor for increase in suicides.

"While the report did not cite Covid-19 as the reason behind the 14 per cent increase in suicide among daily wagers and 11 per cent among the unemployed, officials said the lack of livelihood and income during the lockdown could be among the factors responsible for the spurt," reported The Economic Times last year. 

India's suicide rate increased in 2021

The rate of suicides increased by 6.2 per cent in 2021.

The rate of suicide —the number of suicides per one-lakh population— has been widely accepted as a standard yardstick for comparison. The all-India rate of suicides was 12 in 2021. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands reported the highest rate of suicide (39.7), followed by Sikkim (39.2), Puducherry (31.8), Telangana (26.9) and Kerala (26.9).

Farm suicides

In 2021, a total of 10,881 persons involved in farming sector consisting of 5,318 farmers and cultivators and 5,563 agricultural labourers died by suicides during 2021, accounting for 6.6 per cent of total suicide victims in the country. Of the 5,318 farmer and cultivator suicides, a total of 5,107 were males and 211 were females.

Majority of victims engaged in farming sector were reported in Maharashtra (37.3 per cent), Karnataka (19.9 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (9.8 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (6.2 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (5.5 per cent).

Out of 5,563 suicides by agricultural labourers during 2021, 5,121 were males and 442 were females.

Certain States and Union Territories namely, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Tripura, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep and Puducherry reported zero suicides of farmers and cultivators as well as agriculture labourers.

Suicide data for occupations and income

Government servants accounted for 1.2 per cent (1,898) as compared to 7.0 per cent (11,431) from Private Sector Enterprises out of 1,64,033 of total victims. 

Employees from Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) formed 1.5 per cent (2,541), whereas students and unemployed victims accounted for 8.0 per cent (13,089 victims) and 8.4 per cent (13,714 victims) of total suicides respectively.

Self-employed category accounted for 12.3 per cent of total suicide victims (20,231 out of 1,64,033).

A total of 64.2 per cent (1,05,242) of suicide victims in 2021 were having annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh. 31.6 per cent (51,812) of suicide victims belong to annual income group of Rs 1 lakh to less than Rs 5 lakh.

Maharashtra reported most suicides 

Maharashtra reported the highest number of suicides among all the states in the country, followed by Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

"Majority of suicides were reported in Maharashtra (22,207), followed by 18,925 suicides in Tamil Nadu, 14,965 suicides in Madhya Pradesh, 13,500 suicides in West Bengal and 13,056 suicides in Karnataka, accounting for 13.5 per cent, 11.5 per cent, 9.1 per cent, 8.2 per cent and 8 per cent of total suicides respectively," the NCRB report said.

These five states together accounted for 50.4 per cent of the suicides reported in the country. The remaining 49.6 per cent cases were reported from the 23 other states and eight Union territories.

Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state with a 16.9 per cent share of the country's population, reported a comparatively lower percentage share of suicidal deaths, accounting for only 3.6 per cent of the suicides reported in the country. Delhi, the most-populous Union territory, reported the highest number of suicides (2,840) among UTs, followed by Puducherry (504).

A total of 25,891 suicides were reported in the 53 mega cities of the country in 2021.

Causes for suicides

The NCRB report lists the following causes for suicides in India:

  • Professional or career-related problems
  • A sense of isolation
  • Abuse, violence, family problems 
  • Mental disorders, addiction to alcohol 
  • Financial loss 
  • Chronic pain 

(With PTI inputs)