Suicides In India: Startling Suicide Deaths Statistics 2023

Suicides In India: Startling Suicide Deaths Statistics 2023

India recorded its highest-ever suicides in india rate in 2021, at 12 suicides per 100,000 people. Experts believe. In addition, experts argue that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) may understate the number of suicides committed by women, even as complaints are mounting.

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This article is part of our ongoing data gap series, highlighting gaps in public interest data. In this article on data gaps in suicide reporting in India, we analyze three trends derived from data on the number of deaths and suicides in India in 2021:

  • The suicide rate is 12 suicides per 100,000 people, the highest since data began being published in India in 1967.
  • The suicide rate was highest in developed countries such as Kerala and Telangana, with 27 suicides per 100,000 people 
  • 72.5% of those who committed suicide were men

Crisis Reporting: How Are Suicides Documented?

Death by suicide is defined as the willful end of life. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, for a death to be considered suicide, it must be an unnatural death, the desire to die must be self-inflicted, and there must be a reason for the termination of life.

If the death is found to be unusual, the police will be called and prepare an Initial Information Report (FIR), which will be forwarded to the acting judge (e.g. an additional district judge or police commissioner), who will initiate the entire investigation and direct. This investigation is governed by Article 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which deals with asking questions and reporting a suicide, explained Mumbai High Court Attorney Chinmay Jawale.

An Indian Police  (IPS) officer from  Maharashtra state said police were investigating the cause of death after finding a body. First, they perform a panchama point to capture their first impressions in front of the panchams (witnesses). The body is then taken to a government facility, where a government doctor will conduct an examination of the Panchnama and examine the body in the presence of witnesses. The doctor will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death, and if he finds anything suspicious, he will send the internal organs (dubbed Guts) to the lab for analysis. The police investigation begins with the collection of files based on the autopsy report.

“If, after the investigation,  there are no circumstances other than those that led to the suicide, and if the police conclude that no crime has been committed, the case will be classified as a suicide,” said N. Ramachandran, former Director-General of Police (Assam and Meghalaya) and founder of the Indian Police Foundation, a group of police reform advisors. “When family members suspect someone of complicity in a suicide, an investigation is launched and individual cases of complicity are recorded.”

A separate lawsuit will also be filed against the husband if the married woman commits suicide within seven years, within the meaning of Article 498A (The wife’s husband or a relative of her husband subjected her to cruelty), Ramachandran explained.

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Challenges in Reporting Suicides in India

Lakshmi Vijaykumar, consultant psychiatrist and founder of SNEHA, a suicide prevention NGO in Chennai, cites three reasons for the underreporting of suicides: lack of medical certification for deaths, mental health stigma, and criminalization, not only in relation to suicide reporting but sometimes also with a view to refusing insurance when death was by suicide.

Many studies (2020, 2018) indicate that India underreports the number of suicides due to a lack of death certificates and medical death certificates. The Global Burden of Death (2018) study found that India’s death certificate system only covered  22.5% of deaths, with this figure varying from state to state, from 43% in Tamil Nadu to 3.4% in Bihar. 

In the United States, a coroner, coroner, or pathologist is called to the scene of a death to perform an autopsy and medically confirm the cause of death. In India, the autopsy is performed by a medical professional, not a specialist.

Unlike American death certificates, the Indian death certificate does not contain a medical report on the circumstances of the death. While both the American and Indian systems perform autopsies in accordance with forensic regulations, investigating the place of death in India is the responsibility of the police or a judge and not forensic specialists. According to a 2015 study by the Military College of Medical Sciences in Delhi, they can only speak up if asked for feedback by the police.

This could lead to underreporting of suicide rates, as suicides, especially poisoning, can be recorded as natural deaths.

Deaths from hanging, jumping, or drowning are reported more frequently, while cases of poisoning are rarely reported, Vijaykumar said. Families often pressure the police to report an accidental poisoning case, as they do not want their family to carry the social stigma of suicide.

Preventing suicide from being reported to the police also criminalizes it in the eyes of the public, making it less likely that they will report it.

Other experts point out that there could be potential underreporting within the NCRB itself. “Underreporting can happen in two ways. Firstly, the family is not reported (death); secondly, the FIR is recorded, but the police station is unable to provide the NCRB data in time for the report. Rakhi Dandona, professor of health indicators in the Advisory Group of the Indian Public Health Foundation, Because the NCRB doesn’t provide information on how many police stations sent data, “we’re not sure if the number of suicides has actually increased or if more data is coming in from more police stations across the country.”

However, the stress, anxiety, and insomnia caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on household income and job losses mean that more and more people are suffering from mental health problems. , and they are turning to doctors, counselors, psychiatrists, and hotlines, reports IndiaSpend as of September 2020, estimating the number of suicide cases at  We’ll update the story as soon as we have an answer.

Do Developed States Have More Suicides?

“If you look at the number of suicides, the suicide rate is highest in the south. In central India, particularly in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan, the suicide rate is ‘average’ and falling in the north, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. Vikas Arya, a mental health researcher at the University of Melbourne,

Data from the Global Burden of Disease study, which used data from the Sample Registration System, which records all births and deaths in India from 1990 to 2016, in place of NCRB data, showed the same pattern: high suicide rates in southern states and lower tax rates. Indicator in the northern states.

Experts like Arya point out that southern and central India have better-reported infrastructure than resource-poor northern states. 

In these states, there is also greater social pressure to lead a successful life. “The fact is that a country with a high level of education also has higher expectations. And when those expectations aren’t met, the frustration is higher,” says Vijaykumar. 

A University of Melbourne study report found that economically developed countries had three to four times higher suicide rates than less economically developed countries, but only part of this can be attributed to better suicide registration. The study found that other factors, including higher male unemployment rates and higher literacy rates, were associated with a higher risk of suicide.

Uncovering the Tragedy of Women’s Suicides: A Closer Look at the Missing Cases

In 2021, just over a quarter of suicide victims were women. According to the 2021 NCRB report on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, among the women who committed suicide (45,026), housewives made up the majority (23,178), followed by female students (5,693).

In 2021, 26% of women who committed suicide died from poisoning. Experts warn that there is a risk that this will be dismissed as an accident without proper investigation as more women use poison as a means of suicide.

Another reason for this underreporting is that a married woman who commits suicide can take legal action against her husband and in-laws under the Dowry Act, which encourages families not to report the deaths of women.

According to a 2020 Translational Health Research Institute study, some families may worry that a suicide investigation could uncover sexual abuse or assault, which could result in deaths being classified as natural or accidental. 

“I think underreporting is a widespread problem, especially when it comes to female suicide,” said Vijaykumar. “The explanation is always the same; they say, ‘She had a stomach ache but didn’t know how much medicine to take, or she didn’t know it was poison’.”

Despite the under-reporting of women, “younger. women commit more suicide in India than anywhere else in the world,” says Priti Sridhar,  CEO of the Mariwala Health Initiative for Mental Health Financing, and the number of female suicides in India was 6.6 per 100,000 women, compared to an overall female suicide rate of 5.4 per 100,000 women.

Compared to NCRB data for the same period from 2005 to 2015, the Global Burden of Disease Survey found 802,684 additional suicide deaths (333,558 males and 469,126 females). It found that the average underreporting was 27% per year for men and 50% for women.

Dandona said unclear reports of suicide deaths made it difficult to develop interventions to reduce suicide among Indian women. “There are interventions around the world that show women gain empowerment through education. And when they get more power and take more control of their lives, they’ll be able to do things for themselves,” Dandona said, adding that it would mean a decrease in suicide rates among women in the Southern states.

Enhancing Suicide Data Collection and Reporting

India has committed to the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing the death rate from suicide by a third by 2030. For this, India needs better data not only to monitor the development of the rate but also to plan measures to reduce it. 

India decriminalized attempted suicide in 2017 under the Mental Health Care Act, which protects the rights of people with mental illness and allows them access to treatment.

As part of this decriminalization, experts suggest that suicide data should not be the responsibility of the police but of the health care system. “Under the current system, suicides are reported to the police and the NCRB, making them a criminal offense. Case numbers are therefore underreported, and reporting will be improved as data is collected within healthcare systems,” says Sridhar. “Suicide deaths should be considered an indicator of health status… It is not possible to work on suicide prevention because there is not enough information to develop effective strategies.”

Experts say the system needs to be improved so that the data is subject to police control. For example, the most commonly cited reasons for suicide include personal reasons, including relationships, home problems, and family problems. “We must rely on the judgment of the officer, whether he takes the matter personally or mentions it separately,” Dandona said. “We need to train police to collect better and more consistent data by developing better forms and  training them to collect information.”

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Suicide in India is a complex issue that demands a collective effort. By understanding the demographics, causes, impact, and government initiatives, we can work towards creating a society where individuals receive the support and care they need. Let us unite to tackle this alarming concern and strive for a brighter, more compassionate India. This may be a sign of an increase in reported suicides rather than an actual increase in suicide.

Arjun Kumar

I am a writer specializing in technology content, and I have over 5 years of experience in the content marketing world. Throughout my career, I have worked with a diverse range of companies, crafting articles across various industries, from news articles to technical pieces.With a keen understanding of SEO techniques, I ensure that my content is not only engaging and informative but also optimized for search engines. I am well-versed in utilizing relevant keywords, incorporating meta tags, and structuring content to improve its visibility in search results.