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Farmer Suicides in India
Every year, thousands of farmers in India kill themselves because of many reasons, out of which one of the major reasons is that they can’t pay their debts. This issue is known as “farmer’s suicide” in India. The suicide rate for farmers is alarmingly high. We know that agriculture has been primary and pre-dominant areas of work in India. According to statistics, more than 50% population of India is dependent on farming and agriculture sector for their livelihood. India has more people engaged in agriculture than any other country on earth and yet, the suicide rate in agriculture is among the highest levels in the world.
While you don’t have to be a farmer to be affected by this statistic, if you are a farmer or someone who works with farmers, then this article will probably help you understand why farmers commit suicide and what we as a society can do to prevent it.
Farmers’ Suicides Facts:
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) have a separate section that covers data for Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI). According to the data of ADSI, 10,881 people involved in farming sector died by suicide in 2021 in India. Out of these 5,318 were farmers or cultivators and 5,563 were agricultural labourers. Further, the data states that out of 5,318 farmer/cultivator suicides, a total of 5,107 were male and 211 were female. The ADSI reports states that the farming sector suicide accounts 6.6% of the total suicides that took place in India in 2021.
Now let’s have a look at the state-wise statistics. According to the reports and data, Maharashtra is the state with the highest rates of farmers’ suicides. Other states that show high farmers’ suicide rates are Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.
Yes, the statistics are ghastly but are also unfortunately true.
What Are the Causes of Farmers Suicide in India:
Farmer’s suicide in India is a major issue and it should be dealt with seriousness. Many farmers’ lives are at stake because of this. The reasons why farmers commit suicide are varied and the methods they use to end their lives are also different. Experts in this field have noted down various reasons that could make the farmers in India take this ghastly step of ending their lives. The main reasons behind farmer’s suicide could be lack of money, financial problems, carrying the burden of debt, extreme crop failure due to natural calamities etc.
1. Increased Costs: From seeds to fertilizers, from tools to big equipment, everything has become extremely expensive for the farmers to buy and grow crops. On top of it the livestock industry also needs a good amount of expense to look after the animals, their health, their food, their hygiene and so much more. All these increased costs may affect the purchasing value for the farmers which could lead in low production or low output.
2. The Debt: When the costs for equipment and other facilities increase, farmers may not have a choice but get a loan. Again, when the income is low due to the low production, then naturally paying off the interest and the loan amount is going to be challenge. The burden of increasing interest and low income to pay it off can be a lot to bear. Suicides due to inability to pay off the loans is high in farmers and the biggest cause that leads then to this path of taking their own life.
3. Loss Of Family’s Support: Loss of support from peers or family members could also be one of the major reasons for farmers’ suicide. When we say ‘support’ it is not just financial support, but also emotional and mental support, which is equally important. When families of farmers go one step ahead and create an empathetic support for them, then the feeling of being understood or knowing that they aren’t alone or they can fight and find ways out of the problem can help them to take a step back from think about suicide.
4. Lack of Awareness: If farmers are educated frequently about the loan facilities, subsidies, new ways of farming and much more then their problem-solving skills may develop and they may think of different ways to look at a problem and find different solution other than suicide.
How To Prevent Farmers From Committing Suicides In India
There can be many ways and initiatives to help farmers from not ending their lives by suicide and media and politicians have been talking and debating about these ways and initiatives on how to make a farmer’s life debt free, how the government should reduce the cost of equipment and how they should help farmers in selling their produce at profitable margins etc. But the most important factor that is still missing here is the farmer’s mental health.
Let’s talk about the farmers in the rural areas. Television sets have reached to the villages, smartphones can be seen in most of the people’s hands in the rural areas, they even know how to use WhatsApp, so why hasn’t psychoeducation reached to the rural parts of India? While there are a few programs that are run every year to make the rural population understand the importance of mental health, and there are psychiatrists too who are working in the villages, but all this hasn’t reached the corners of every rural village. We know that depression is something that is not seen in most of the cases. Sometimes that farmers may not even know that whatever they are feeling could be depression, anxiety or stress related issues. If they do not know what the symptoms are about then how do we expect them to reach out? Hence, psychoeducation related to neurotic disorders in rural areas is a must!
If we talk about urban farmers’ mental health then there is a chance of them knowing about the mental health issues, but again, due to the stigma they may not reach out.
While not all the people who die by suicide suffer from depression, but the people suffering from depression are at high risk level of feeling suicidal and acting on it.
Farmer Suicides Way Ahead in India
Farmer suicides take place on a high level in India than in any other country and that is because two-third of the Indian population’s livelihood is depended on farming or agriculture sector. This population is continuously exposed to poverty and distress without a cure. Crop failure, rising prices, increasing debts, low income and no support to understand their own mental health are the reasons why the number is increasing every year.
FAQ About Farmers Suicides In India
We spoke at length about how mental health is one of the major causes and also one of the prevention methods about farmers’ suicide in India. Let’s have a look at few FAQ’s related to the topic that can give us more information:
Q1. Which states are most affected by farmers’ suicides?
A: The states that are most affected by the farmers’ suicide are Maharashtra and specifically the Vidharbha region in Maharashtra. Followed by that Andhra Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh -Telengana, Warrangal, Rayalaseema are most affected places where farmers died by suicide.
Other states in the list are-Karnataka (mainly Northern Karnataka), Kerala (Wayanad) and Chhattisgarh.
Q2. What are the measures taken by the government?
A: Over the years, the government of every state has passed a bill or passed a scheme to help farmers such as credit facility, crop insurance, agriculture infrastructure etc. The National Government has also announced schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Maan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi etc.
Q3. What are the shortfalls in the government’s measures?
A: There are hardly any measures taken for the mental health care for farmers in India. It is high time that a bill is passed for mental health checkup and creating an education plan related to mental health issues in rural areas.
Q4. What needs to be done to improve the condition of farmers?
A: A support system needs to be created for the farmers for their emotional and mental wellbeing. Mental health can be incorporated school syllabus so that the children, the future generation, understand how vital it is. This will help the younger generation to know the importance of mental wellbeing and they can further educate their elders in the farming sector and help them too!
Q5. What are the common problems of farmers?
A: The common problems that farmers face which make them take steps towards suicide are something that we already discussed. But one main factor that goes missing is developing problem solving skills and building resilience through psychological intervention.
The problems that farmers face on a daily basis are huge. Imagine having a continuous uncertainty about the job you are in. Wouldn’t you feel anxious about what next? Wouldn’t thinking about whether everything will turn out as per plan make you overthink every time? Our farmers go through all these mental states almost every day. Their jobs, their livelihood are at stake and at such times having mental health issues is given. Hence, giving a mental health care packages to farmers and, most importantly, psychoeducation of farmers is something that needs to be focused on more seriously now.
Book a Session:
We at WAITT provide counseling for crisis situation and suicide clients. If you know any farmer who could benefit from the services then you can book a session from here-
Let’s stand united for mental health of our farmers and take steps towards their mental health!