Suicide rates of Indian women lower among divorced
A recent study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, has suggested that the incidence of suicide among women in India is lower among those who are divorced or widowed.
Data samples were taken from 2001 to 2003 and applied to figures for 2010 to estimate the number of suicide deaths in India in that year. About 3% of the 95,000 deaths surveyed were due to suicide.
In terms of India’s entire population, this corresponds to 187,000 suicide deaths in 2010, with 115,000 among men and 72,000 among women. Just over half (56%) of women’s deaths from suicide occurred between the ages of 15 and 29.
One of the most interesting findings (and which has resulted in the greatest media coverage) is that rates of suicide are lower among divorced women.
The figures are open to interpretation but it may be that divorce allows women to escape unhappy marriages which might otherwise have led them to commit suicide.
The results of the study will further complicate the efforts of a country trying to make sense of itself in the face of divorce rates which have more than doubled in the past six years. The easing of attitudes towards divorce, however, has not been an easy process, and stigma remains.
India’s suicide rates as a whole are among the highest in the world.
Professor Vikram Patel of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and lead author of the report, commented that suicide is reaching national-crisis levels, and “will soon overtake maternal causes as the leading cause of death in young women, which is staggering.”
This is particularly the case among the highly educated. Patel suggested that:”The most obvious explanation is that the distance you fall when you hit the ground of reality is greater when your aspirations have been built up by opportunities that in reality don’t exist,” he said.
It seems clear, though, that suicide rates can form an interesting, if sombre, reflection on the state of a fast-changing nation.