The massive Suicide Death Rate among Indians, as per a latest study, should make us question what is wrong with the way we live. The Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2016 has put forward data which is alarming for our country. Published in The Lancet, this study says that there were 2,30,314 suicides in India in 2016.

Also, India’s contribution to global suicide deaths has seen a drastic rise from 25.3% in 1990 to 36.6% in 2016 among women, and from 18.7% to 24.3% among men. Which means that for every ten women who end their lives, roughly four are Indian. The paper has warned us of a simmering health crisis which will blow up and consume many more lives, if it goes unchecked.

Why are we in such a mental health mess?

It is not as if we hadn’t seen this coming. Rising health problems, both physical and emotional, point out that we Indians do not have a very healthy lifestyle

Long work hours, resultant stress, the burden of unending EMIs and expenses, all these factors are taking a toll on our health. But collectively as a society, our tendency to keep our troubles to ourselves is what is affecting our mental health.

SOME TAKEAWAYS-

  • According to a recent study, suicide death rate has gone up from 25.3% in 1990 to 36.6% in 2016 among women, and from 18.7% to 24.3% among men.
  • This is a wake-up call to us to stop ignoring our mental well-being.
  • Due to the patriarchal infrastructure of our society and gender bias, both men and women carry the burden of stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness.
  • The reasons may be different but what remains true is that we all need to take better care of ourselves and each other.

Conversations about feeling depressed, anxious, lonely and isolated are still a taboo. We just don’t open up about our emotional struggles. This is because we see depression and anxiety as a sign of weakness. We call people who seek help from therapists “crazy”, “demented” or “mentally sick”. The majority of population in India today feels isolated on an individual level. They are scared of thoughts and feelings running wild in their heads. What happens when we suppress them for the better part of our lives? This data is a proof of our unhealthy lifestyle and repressive social infrastructure, which pushes millions of people over the edge, to take an extreme step to put an end to their own misery.

What is more daunting is that millions more hover over this edge, their grievance unchecked

Why are women more susceptible?

It is clear from the study that women in India are more susceptible to suicide than men and there seems to be a theory on why it is so. “Married women account for the highest proportion of suicide deaths among women in India. Marriage is known to be less protective against suicide for women because of arranged and early marriage, young motherhood, low social status, domestic violence, and economic dependence,” claims the study.

If married Indian women are so prone to ending their lives, it means there is something wrong with the way society treats them. Firstly, healthcare in general among women is trivialised in our country. When it comes mental health, any woman’s complaints of suffering from depression or stress are seldom taken seriously by her family.

This neglect further worsens her condition, as she feels her well-being is of no value to her loved ones. Another important factor is the changing ways of the world, and women’s inability to change their lives and social status

Tired of always being treated as the second or unwanted gender, women are now increasingly losing interest in their lives. There is a sense of apathy towards family, household and daily routine among many women. They crave for an individual identity, a personal income, a life full of purpose and autonomous existence, but alas, they can’t have it. Women’s reduced role in society and the oppression they face is now affecting their mental well-being.

Both men and women in India carry a burden from our patriarchal beliefs on their minds. While our burdens may be of different nature, the outcome is similar. We are depressed, lonely and unable to reach out for help due to the stigma associated with mental health. This is a lot to take in and work on, for a better and healthier society. But where do we start? Perhaps, by first accepting that mental health issues exist in our society and we need to talk about them.

Picture Credit: NY Times

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 Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own

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