Suicide stats in India don't count tenants says NY Times & other suicide facts

"Assertions that the suicide rate among the country’s agricultural workers is nearly three times the national average are widely believed in India, but precise figures are difficult to come by. (Health workers, social scientists and statisticians point out that the issue is extremely complex.) The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 170,000 Indians in all walks of life commit suicide every year; the Indian government put the figure at about 135,000 in 2010. That is misleading, not least because suicide is a crime in India, and as such falls under the purview of the National Crime Records Bureau. The social stigma it brings, and the risk that it may mean a loss of government compensation, feeds a family’s reluctance to report such deaths. Moreover, many suicides occur among agricultural workers who are not officially categorized as farmers." “There is likely to be a serious underestimation of suicides,” Professor K. Nagaraj, an economist at the Asian College of Journalism wrote in a 2008 report. “The most important problem is the way a farmer is defined at the ground level — as someone who has a title to land. This is likely, for instance, to leave out tenant farmers, and, particularly, women farmers.” These factors, according to Mr. Nagaraj, amount to a “conspiracy of silence.”

Sonora Jha, "How Suicide and Politics Mix in India," The New York Times, April 24, 2014.

#health #developingcountries #populationgrowth #smallfarmers #agriculture