*One Lakh is equivalent to One Hundred Thousand

Over the last five decades, suicide has risen dramatically with alarming rate. According to the widely circulated daily newspaper, The Times of India—worldwide, suicide rates have increased by 60% in the past 50 years, mainly in the developing countries. Globally, one million people die from suicide every year -- a mortality rate of 16 per 100,000, or one death every 40 seconds. These figures do not include suicide attempts which are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicide. Most suicides in the world occur in Asia, which is estimated to account for up to 60% of all suicides. On the occasion of World Suicide Prevention Day 2008, WHO says—China, India and Japan may account for 40% of all world suicides. [1]

According to WHO estimates for the year 2020 and based on current trends, approximately 1.53 million people will die from suicide, and 10-20 times more people will attempt suicide worldwide. This represents, on an average, one death every 20 seconds and one attempt every 1-2 seconds. [2]


India, the second most populous country, is known today as one of the fastest developing nations in the world. Along with the increase in economy, there is also increasing number of people who are dying from suicide every year. As per estimation of WHO's latest suicide rate, India along with China, holds the dubious distinction of having the highest suicide rates in the world. In India 98 out of every 100,000 people commit suicide annually. According to Union health ministry's estimates—as many as 1.2 lakh people end their lives every year in India by committing suicide. Besides that, more than four lakh people attempt to commit suicide. [3]

Suicide is said to be the third-leading cause of death in India.[4] Isn’t it astonishing to know that a mortality rate of 1.2 lakh people committing suicide in India would mean more than 300 suicides per day, not less than 14 suicides per hour and one suicide in every five minutes? Moreover, isn’t it heartbreaking to come to know more than four lakh people attempting to commit suicide in India would disclose about 1100 attempted suicides per day, about 46 attempted suicides per hour and one suicide attempt in every one minute and thirty seconds?

What we are hearing is just what we have come to know through news and reports, and there may be many more suicides, both committed and attempted, of which we aren’t aware of because they haven’t been reported or detected by the media and police. The reason for many suicide cases, which doesn’t reach police and media, is to avoid the hassle of interrogation, embarrassment and social stigma. Another reason is:

Attempted suicide and suicide is illegal in the Indian penal code. The most families will not report about attempted suicides (Venkoba Rao 1983: 212). It is a problem that families very often cover up suicides as accidents, because for fear of being punished by law. Therefore the estimated number of unknown cases must be very high.[5]

Such disturbing statistics within our nation calls for a serious response to the prevention of suicide. Unfortunately, despite the high rates of suicides occurring every year in India, it is reported that there is no special national policy for suicide prevention.[6] It is no wonder why much attention isn’t given to the preventive aspects of suicide in India. Even the churches are unaware, untrained and unequipped to face this challenging task. Leading magazine, India Today, observed it right, “Unlike the West, counseling facilities in India are almost non-existent.”[7] Let not this plea go unheeded, “The need of the hour is a robust counseling system equipped to pick up distress signals in people and help them out of their entrapments.”[8]

Prayer Request: If God willing, it is my desire to start a HELPLINE for severely depressed and suicidal people. This would be a powerful tool to give eternal hope to those struggling for survival in this temporal world. Kindly pray for God's wisdom, providence and guidance in this matter. Feel free to post your comments below or you may write to :


[1] “India, China have highest suicide rates in the world.” The Times of India (11 October 2008).
[2] J. M. Bertolote and A. Fleischmann, Suicide Prevention: Meeting the Challenge Together (Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2004), 7
[3] Ibid.
[4] Paul Watson, “In South India, the Way Out Is Often Suicide.” Los Angeles Times (May 30, 2004).
[5] See Marion Zimmermann, “Suicide in India in a Religious, Political and Social Context.” Ethnology Essay, 2002, 36 pages.
[6] Lakshmi Vijayakumar, Suicide Prevention: Meeting the Challenge Together (Orient Blackswan, 2004), 99
[7] Malini Bhupta and Aditi Pai. “Crimes of Passion.” India Today (July 13, 2008).
[8] Ibid.

Stephen David