Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Sep 20, 2002
Industry & Economy
Suicide rate on the rise
KOCHI, Sept. 19
THE number of suicides in Kerala has crossed one lakh in about 11 years and the trend is witnessing an increase in the number of people resorting to this extreme step.
Not a day passes without a report of a suicide death in the State. And many cases involve parents killing their children and then committing suicide.
"In fact, these parents are denying the children of their right to live,'' said Mr M.A. Krishnan, founder of Saurakshika, an NGO launched recently to protect the rights of children.
He said that the organisation was planning to set up counselling centres in all the districts to help discourage people from taking such a fatal step.
During the period between 1990 to November 2001, 1,02,199 people had committed suicide in the State, according to official records.
Men topped the list with 66,408. In 2001, till November, 7,738 people committed suicide.
The highest number of suicides was recorded in 1999 with 9,778; of this, 6,853 were men.
In 2000, a total of 9,304 people took their lives. While the national suicide rate is 11 per lakh population, it is 32 in Kerala.
The number of suicides by families also seems to be on the rise. In 1998, 38 families comprising 68 members committed suicide.
In 1999, in 30 family suicides, 21 persons were below 16 years old.
In 2000, 53 families jointly decided to take their lives and of the 97 dead, 26 were below the age of 16.
According to Jeevan Maitri, an organisation engaged in giving timely counselling to depressed people, acute family problems cropping from financial crisis were the major reasons.
Besides, in the case of entire family committing suicide, Maitri sources said that the head of the family, after deciding to take his own life, was forcing the other members such as wife and children to join him.
Thiruvananthapuram and Idukki districts witnessed the highest number of suicides in the State, they added.
The reason attributed to majority of the suicides is mounting debt.
According to Mr Krishnan, the change in lifestyle and the erosion in cultural values had led people to spend beyond their means.
On the other hand, the instinct for economic independence has led to the breaking up of the joint family system.
"To live like their rich neighbours, many resort to borrowings and hire purchases which eventually land them in deep financial crisis."
On the other hand, some people start chit funds or get into money-lending with borrowed funds. Non-repayment by the beneficiaries pushes them into the red, and at times leads them to suicide.
One such businessman recently committed suicide along with his family of four. "All these are the ultimate result of the influence of modern culture and consumerism," Mr Krishnan said.
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