Farmers’ Suicide in India - Sociological Disaster or Unrecognized Psychopathology


Pushpagiri Institute of Medical Sciences, Tiruvalla, India


Suicide by farmers is one of the most important concerns in present day Asia and India. It has occupied much space in sociological and public discourses and has been a live topic for discussion in media- both print and electronic.  The psychological aspects of this crisis have remained largely ignored. Suicide is recorded as a crime by police in India. Attempted suicide is punishable under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. National Crimes Record Bureau maintains suicide statistics and is the only official source of information of completed suicide.  In 2010 there were 1, 34, 599 suicides in India with a suicide rate of 11.4. True incidence of suicides may be much higher.

The big paradox is  while the farmer suicides are increasing, the total farm population in the country is fast declining. Indebtedness is considered as  a major and proximate cause of farmers suicides in India. Crashes in prices of crops, growing water stress and drought, decline in State investment in agriculture and  corporatization of agriculture sector are leading to steadily deepening agrarian crisis in the country.  Famers’ suicides in India have been largely understood only from the agricultural and economic perspectives. Mental health dimension is important and needs to be understood.   Specific prevention strategies should include treatment of depression and other mental disorders, intervention after attempted suicide, intervention targeted at high risk groups and  public education collaborating with media. Mental health interventions have been lacking in most parts of India and this lacunae should be addressed on a priority basis.