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Indian Church official blames government policies for increased suicide cases

Church officials in India say suicide cases in India have increased mainly because of government’s wrong economic reforms and insensitive policies.
Street vender in India. Photo:CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Church officials in India say suicide cases in India have increased mainly because of government’s wrong economic reforms and insensitive policies.

“Many have come to a rock-bottom with no jobs, no income and no hope for a better tomorrow,” says Father Faustine Lobo, regional director of social apostolate of bishops in Karnataka, a southern Indian state.

The priest, who is engaged in grassroots works, also says demonetization and increasing fuel prices on a daily basis has hit the common man directly.

According to the recently released Indian government data, an average 30 suicide cases took place daily in the country in 2020, allegedly due to “joblessness, bankruptcy and poverty.”

The report published by the National Crimes Records Bureau says as many as 10,662 suicide cases in 2020 were directly linked to poverty — 5,213 due to bankruptcy, 3,548 suicides joblessness and 1,901 cases from other forms of poverty.

“The increase in deaths by poverty went up by 69 percent from the previous year, while suicides from joblessness hiked by 24 percent,” says the report as quoted in the Times of India.

Father Lobo says the hike suicide case indicates the frustration people go through because of the government’s pro corporate policies and actions that are “totally against common man’s welfare in the country.”

He said bankruptcy and joblessness contribute to poverty and the crime bureau’s report indicates a state of “utter hopeless situation” people now face.

The priest says among the suicide cases, bankruptcy and indebtedness constitute nearly 49 percent, one third due to unemployment. “Both these reasons lead to poverty and hopelessness,” he adds.

About 8 percent of 150,000 cases reported in a year are counted as direct impact of the pandemic.

In 2019, before the pandemic hit, Indian reported 9,881 suicide cases, directly linked to poverty.

Father Lobo says pandemic led to more deaths as some people could not support the treatment expenses. Some were frustrated after losing their source of income, some were affected by no supply of liquor, while others were hit loneliness.

But everything had some connection with “no hope for a bright future,” the priest explains.

Clara D’Cunha, a psychologist and counselor in Mangaluru, Karnataka, points out more suicide related cases occurred among teenagers, adolescents as well as youths during the pandemic. “But they were not related to poverty, but were mostly relationship issues caused by lockdown as well as mobile and substance addictions,” she told Matters India.

D’Cunha says addiction is a major cause of suicide cases. Citing an example from her clients from a rehabilitation center, she said more than 80 percent of alcohol addicts reported for treatment had episodes of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in the past.

Nearly 80 percent alcohol dependents admitted for rehabilitation in her center, TELOCA, have suicidal ideation at some point of their lives and have attempted suicides.

She said the pandemic has contributed to the hopelessness which they were already passing through, perpetuated through joblessness and no source of income.


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