In 2020 and 2021, there was extensive reporting on the impact of COVID-19– He was an emergency raging. And its impact with job cuts, withdrawal symptoms and most importantly women and young girls with severe vulnerability – within the confines of four walls. Domestic abuse by women has increased by 200 percent due to the national lockdown. coverage highlighted the urgent need for mental health support centerShelter choices and ensuring that the safety of women and children are included in the health sector.
Reduction till September 2022. The world is watching after COVID 19, it is slowly coming back from countries across the world, leaving behind a trail of death, mental health crisisOn the one hand suffering, and countries coming together to respond, communities forming networks for survival and research at this level for the first time, on the other hand, around the world.
Sadly, this has again gone unnoticed on women and young girls. Apart from young girls who drop out of school, housewives have suffered greatly, for child marriages- ending decades of work as well as continuing the inter-generational cycle of abuse and nutritional deficiency.
According to the NCRB report released in 2021- more than 45000 women died by suicide in India, 23,000 of them are housewives. The report noted that ‘marriage related issues’ (particularly ‘dowry related issues’), ‘impotence/infertility’ saw the highest proportion of female victims. Another important observation from the report is that suicide among young women (ie up to 30 years) accounts for 54 percent of the total suicides among women, while 36 percent is among young men.
It also comes as the countrywide suicide death rate hit an all-time high during the year – an increase of 6.1 percent from the previous year. A total of 45,026 women died by suicide, and out of this number, 23,178 were housewives. This rate is concerning not only because of the high number of cases, but also because these include only reported cases. Hundreds if not thousands of cases go unreported because of the stigma attached to suicide.
The stigma associated with suicide is prevalent in both rural and urban areas but the majority of suicide deaths occur only in urban areas. In most rural settings, there is no proper police protocol for registering death by suicide. Autopsies are not performed and most deaths are by suicide Accidental death is being reported. It is especially worse for women who bear the brunt of domestic violence, gender exclusion and lack of agency. Self-immolation is a method where women outnumber men, 2435 cases were registered in 2021. Poisoning is another common method used by women, which is less reported than men, who mostly use hanging as a method. While males outnumber females numerically in both cases, this is attributed to the higher male population.
When a conscious effort is made from women for autonomy and decision-making, their identity gradually diminishes. This takes a toll on their self-esteem, making them feel increasingly isolated and powerless. Women are expected to be primary caregivers in most social settings, but the same kindness is never extended to them.
Many factors can be attributed to the increasing deaths due to suicides. housewives in india, These range from issues of domestic distress, financial abuse to unknown mental illness, which are ignored till the end. Their lack of agency and the ability to make choices for most women also takes a toll on them. Young women also face the challenges of limited education opportunities, pressure for early marriage which may be reflected in the overall higher suicides among young women.
The first step to address this is to fine-tune the data collection methodology to ensure comprehensive, reliable data. This will help us understand the urgency of interventions and the demographics that require them. Deaths from suicides are grossly underreported and unless this is reversed, there is no scope for proper prevention.
Suicide is a complex biosocial phenomenon that varies greatly in different demographics and populations, and must be understood in their context for appropriate prevention. The second step would be to include the various risks and possible causes of suicide attempts which are particularly related to housewives and women. To combat this, it is imperative to understand the stigma. In addition, an all-women welfare program involving suicide prevention would be a necessary addition.
Finally, it is essential that a comprehensive, inclusive, National Suicide Prevention Strategy Release in India. With enough political attention, input by physicians and experts, and representation of affected groups, prevention can be made a reality—with no one left behind.
The founder of Sneha is Dr. Lakshmi Vijayakumar.
Dr. Sukriti Chauhan Public Health Advocate & CEO, ETI
Help is available if you are feeling suicidal or have suicidal thoughts – please contact the Sneha Suicide Prevention Helpline – 044 -2464000 (24 hours).