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Farmer suicides have not increased, New data and research in recent years and may have more complex causes than falling incomes or rising indebtedness.

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  • The overall farmer suicide rate decreases in India but Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala remain suicide hotspots even with doubts about NCRB data
  • The ultimate sign of distress is suicide. Amid the ongoing rural distress, reports of farmer suicides are often used to highlight the plight of rural India.
  • However, new data and research suggest that farmer suicides may not have increased in recent years and may have more complex causes than falling incomes or rising indebtedness
  • According to the 2018 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, the rate of farmer suicides in India has decreased over the last few years.
  • This decrease comes even as overall suicide rates remained fairly constant and rural poverty shot up
Data of farmer suicide rates
Data of farmer suicide rates
  • National figures, though, mask the significant variation in farmer suicide rates across states.
  • Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Kerala reported the highest suicide rates in 2018, as per NCRB data.
  • A 2014 study of farmer suicides between 1997-2012 had placed these three states among those with a major problem regarding suicides
  • The study also classified a group of states that have had little problem with farmer suicides historically.
  • This group included Punjab but that seems to have changed in recent years.
  • Among the major agrarian states, Punjab has experienced a sharp jump in farmer suicides with more than a fivefold increase.
  • Some states seem to barely have a farmer suicide issue, the NCRB data suggests.
  •  In 2018, six states, including Bihar, Odisha, and West Bengal reported zero farmer suicides.
Chart of Farmer suicide rates.
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