According to the Global Health Data Exchange, India stands out with the highest suicide rate among young and middle-aged women when compared to countries with similar socio-demographics.
Data from the National Crime Records Bureau reveals a distressing statistic of 22,372 housewives taking their own lives in 2020, translating to an alarming average of 61 suicides per day, or one every 25 minutes.
Early marriage often leads to added stress and responsibilities at a young age, contributing to mental health issues and suicide.
Instances of rape, sexual exploitation, and domestic abuse have a profound impact on the mental well-being of women.
Government data reveals that nearly one in three Indian women aged 15 to 49 who have been married have faced domestic abuse, with approximately 3% reporting physical violence during pregnancy.
Pressure to Give Birth to a Son:
Societal pressure to bear a male child can create immense stress and despair for women.
Lack of Financial Autonomy:
Women’s financial dependence can make them vulnerable to abusive situations and limit their choices.
Poverty-driven desperation, such as the case of a mother in Salem, Tamil Nadu, who tragically jumped in front of a moving bus to pay her children’s fees, can lead to suicides.
Role of Pandemic:
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated issues such as domestic violence, job losses (especially among domestic workers), and mental health challenges.
Academic pressure and expectations can push students, especially young women, towards suicide.
Mental Health Challenges:
Factors like social isolation, lack of public awareness, and poor understanding of depression contribute to the problem.
Double Burden of Office and Household Work:
Balancing professional careers with household responsibilities creates a challenging environment for many women.
Increasing Disaster and Displacement:
Natural disasters and displacement situations can lead to heightened stress and vulnerability.
- Social Sensitization: Initiatives to raise awareness about mental health issues and gender-based violence.
- Role of Self-Help Groups (SHGs): Empowering women through economic independence and support networks.
- Access to Mental Health Care Services: Expanding access to mental health services and counseling.
- Strict Implementation of Laws: Ensuring the enforcement of laws against crimes targeting women.
- National Suicide Prevention Strategy: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s recent strategy in November 2022.
- Barmer, Rajasthan Initiative: The “Anmol Jeevan” campaign launched on World Mental Health Day in 2021, which included a 24-hour helpline.
Suicide among women in India is a complex issue influenced by both psychological and sociological factors.
Implementing comprehensive policies, including awareness campaigns, economic empowerment, improved mental health services, and legal enforcement, can play a crucial role in addressing this concerning trend.