Morbid Statistics : The Despair

“20 students killed themselves every day in 2010”

Data says, suicide death rates in India are among the highest in the world. The suicide rate per 1,00,000 is more than 10. Our rapidly developing country seems to also have a rapidly developing suicide rate over the years. And our minds instantly go towards the numerous farmer suicide cases that we hear and read about day after day. What not many people realise is that the statistics say something different and very, very disturbing.

“95-100 people commit suicide in India every day. And of these a whopping 40% are in the adolescent age group” [Source: CNN-IBN Report, Jan 13 2010]

“Student suicides have increased 26% from 2006 to 2010”

An article in The Lancet published in June 2012 says  suicide rates are highest in the 15-29 age group. Among men, 40 per cent of suicides were among people age 15-29. For women, it was nearly 60 per cent.

These numbers say that the likelihood of committing suicide is comparable to that of being in, say, traffic accidents. As a statistics major I know that while the latter is a result of random variables, the former…not so much.

And you don’t need to be a statistics major to see how disturbingly ridiculous this is. And these are just the official records…

Mental health is not a priority in our country. Seeking psychiatric help is considered to be the number one reason to shun a person. Our country has a stupid and dangerous obsession with academic brilliance. It doesn’t matter whether you like physics or chemistry, you have to score a 95%! What use are you of if you didn’t get into the IITs or IIMs or AIIMS?


What these numbers won’t tell you is the magnitude of despair. The despair felt by that boy or girl when they suddenly feel that there is nothing left to do. The despair driving them to kill themselves.

And a number of  people will come to me and tell me how so many of them do it for the ‘publicity’, for their shallow self-interests. Really? 20 students per day? And a rate that does nothing but increase?

When my friend killed himself a year ago, he became part of that statistic. But to me he was not just “one of those is 7379”, he was not merely a number that failed to interpret his despair.

To me he was a set of dreams and passions, imagination and innovation, kind deeds and a large, warm heart, which was lost to the world.


9 thoughts on “Morbid Statistics : The Despair

  1. Pretty true. Reading this, I recalled that one of my colleagues in work told me a few days ago that the students in China are considered “Not good enough – Below average” if they get anything below 90% in any exams. When I asked him how do they manage to get 90% in every exam, with a smile, he said, “See, we are trained to excel in every exam in our lives, be it sports, music or studies. We are doing it from our nursery days. We’re accustomed.”

    No wonder China ranks 8th in world in suicide rates with a whopping 22.23% in 2011.

  2. HI Antara
    The numbers are indeed disturbing. In schools probably, moral science and character building are not being given any importance. Here I mean the courage to face downs in life and the maturity to face failures. Thats whats needed to not even reach the stage where one needs help!

    • Oh but I disagree. Not everybody is predisposed to a very strong character…not everybody has the same kind of mental structure. People DO need help…and our country doesn’t look towards that direction one bit.
      Also the one at fault is the education system, not in the character building aspect, but in the obsession with ‘You have to study this because it pays better’. This mentality has trickled down to EVERY family in India. It is engineering/medical in IIT/AIIMS or nothing else. What about writers and artists and graphic designers and historians?

      I am giving you MY example. I am an arts student in my heart…stuck in a science stream. Trust me…it kills me from inside sometimes.

  3. It frightens me. And somehow, it makes me feel empty inside, these numbers. I think back to that day in descriptive class when Mam grouped the data into a frequency distribution and said with finality: all individual identities are lost. And I look at the statistics laid bare in the article and think that somewhere there is the guy I’ve heard so much about from you that he seems like a friend I missed out on. A lifetime of brilliance summed up in a single number that means nothing. And all because he was pushed so hard that he could not but go over the edge. It scares me.

  4. Totally agree to the last part. Media houses aka researches put these figures. What they don’t say or show is the despair. Despair of those s/he leaves behind and also the reason that led them to take the decision. I agree at times one can reach a point where you feel that is the best option. Such time if they have someone in life who can give some assurance, it helps. These thoughts are momentary. A transition period. One helping hand, and whole situation changes.

    When it comes to student suicides, I feel India seriously need to take some serious action. The onus lies partly on parents and also our education system. The pressure and expectation levels, both need to be reduced. Emotional help during trying period of education is the need.

    Well consisely written!!! An emotional statistician at work. :-)

  5. And then it shames me. Because I spend my days working on statistical models while in my head there are dreams and could-have-beens I have voluntarily given up on. And I realize that inadvertently, I may have caved into the same pressure that pushes a fellow student to end his life. I did not stand up for my dream which, perhaps, was the only thing it asked of me. I realize that somehow I have played my part in making this screwed up system what it is. That I am responsible too.

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