Robin Williams, one of Hollywood’s greatest comic actors, killed himself in his $22 million home. Obviously, all the money in the world can’t save you. An outwardly privileged life is no protection from suicidal thoughts. Studies show that suicide is higher among the most educated. Global studies show it is higher in countries with higher standards of living.
Over 800,000 people commit suicide every year and of this, 1,35,000 or 17 per cent are from India. Given the findings listed above, it is not surprising that the highest suicide rates are in our most advanced states — Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Among cities, Chennai and Bengaluru have the highest rate.
Three cases of suicide are reported in India every 15 minutes. One is a young person in the age group of 15 to 29. The reasons for 46 per cent of suicides are family problems and illness. Love affairs account for 3 per cent and so does bankruptcy. Dowry disputes account for 1.6 per cent of the cases. So, what can we do to help?
Parents and elders can help by not putting pressure on young people to perform in studies or in the job market. If we notice that someone around us is depressed or suffering from a mental disorder, we need to listen and get them professional help. Schools, colleges and corporates need to provide counsellors to help. A suicide helpline in every city and town would help. Government needs to step in when specific symptoms are present.
The age group 30-40 is most vulnerable. The Lancet, the respected British medical journal, says that South India accounts for the world’s largest number of suicides among young people! Within the next decade, India is likely to have the largest population of young people. If these young people do not have proper jobs and opportunities, civil strife and suicide threaten to turn the country’s demographic dividend into a demographic threat. We need to act now!
— The writer is the author of Innovation Sutra...