Indian Agrarian Crisis now moved to

Farmer-the most endangered species

Farmers’ suicides growing at 3.9 % a year

Posted by Ramoo on April 2, 2007

Special Correspondent

  • The rate is the highest in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Goa
  • Some regions of Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry also have high rates

    CHENNAI: Both pesticide-related and non-pesticide suicides among farmers are growing annually at 3.9 per cent, according to a study conducted by Sneha and the Centre for Suicide Research, University of Oxford, Lakshmi Vijayakumar, founder, Sneha, has said.

    South India’s semi-arid heartland (Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Goa) is the region where the suicides are the highest.

    Furthermore, certain regions of Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have high rates of suicides, Dr. Vijayakumar said. Almost two- thirds of the suicides, and nearly 60 per cent of the suicides by pesticide consumption occurred in the four States.

    She presented these figures at a two-day national review of pesticide suicides here on Friday evening. The figures backed the fact that the practice of using pesticides to commit suicide was gaining ground. She made a case for limiting access to pesticides and promoting an active network of diverse stakeholders to prevent pesticide suicides.

    Keith Hawton, professor of Psychiatry, Oxford University, said decriminalising suicidal behaviour would be an important step forward. The availability of safer products should be increased, local management of poisoning should be improved and easy access to a healthcare centre must be ensured. Farmers must also be educated about the use of pesticides. Though borrowing from private moneylenders was a key reason for the suicides, declining interpersonal relations within the family, health issues and alcohol abuse were contributing factors.

    Health Secretary V.K. Subburaj said pesticides were the most common means of committing suicide because they were easily available.

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