In modernising India, suicide is on the rise among youth

India has the world’s highest suicide rate among 15 to 29 year olds, ahead of next-placed North Korea, according to a September report by the World Health Organization. For the first time, suicide is the leading cause of death among young Indian women, overtaking deaths during childbirth. In most parts of the world suicides tend to occur among the most disadvantaged groups, but in India they are happening among better educated young adults living in the most prosperous regions. In south India, where literacy rates and incomes are highest in the country, suicide rates are 10 times higher. Cultural issues, discrimination, parental pressure and competition for highly paid jobs are combining to create a suicide epidemic among young Indians.

Aspirations are at a much higher level and society around them is not always keeping pace, so the disappointment is much greater.

Vikram Patel, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who carried out the research

Compounding the problem is a system that barely recognizes mental health issues. Spending on mental health accounts for 0.06 percent of the government’s health budget, the lowest level in the world after Zimbabwe. For most Indians with mental illnesses “there is literally no care available”, Harsh Vardan, then-health minister, said in October. Faced with these rising issues, India on Wednesday dropped attempted suicide from a list of crimes punishable by prison.