Rediff.com  » Business » Businessmen suicides outnumber farmers' for 2nd year in a row

Businessmen suicides outnumber farmers' for 2nd year in a row

By Sachin P Mampatta
August 31, 2022 08:55 IST
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The states recording the highest number of such deaths include Karnataka (14.3 per cent), Maharashtra (13.2 per cent), and Madhya Pradesh (11.3 per cent). Tamil Nadu (9.4 per cent) and Telangana (7.5 per cent) were the other two in the top five.

Steve Jobs famously turned to Bill Gates for help after Apple reached the brink of bankruptcy in 1997, eventually resulting in a turnaround that has the iPhone maker valued at over $2.5 trillion.

Therapists often cite similar examples encouraging clients to seek help so that they too can recover from business crisis.

Similar stories of recovery have played out in India too. A builder who had taken on a large debt found himself unable to repay his loans after his project stalled. Stressed, he sought out a therapist, who suggested honest communication with his debtors. They were willing to listen and it was from one of them that a solution emerged.

 

The need for such guidance has gained importance with the number of businesspersons dying by suicide exceeding those engaged in the farming sector for the second year in a row.

A total of 12,055 businesspersons died by suicide in 2021. The number of such deaths in the farming segment was 10,881, shows the data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

The gap between the two has also widened slightly. There were 11,716 such deaths of businesspersons in 2020 as against 10,677 of those in the farming sector. The NCRB report notes it provides only the profession of the deceased and “has no linkage whatsoever regarding cause of suicide”.

In a 2015 assessment of such studies entitled Systematic review of suicide in economic recession by Mayowa Oyesanya, Javier Lopez-Morinigo, and Rina Dutta, the researchers found more people died by suicide during times of downturns (such as the one caused by the Covid-19 pandemic).

“Thirty-eight studies met predetermined selection criteria and 31 of them found a positive association between economic recession and increased suicide rates ... Social protection may potentially act as a buffer against the negative socioeconomic effects of recession,” it said. Studies have shown that a financial crisis can have a negative impact on how people view themselves. This can affect the trend of deaths by suicide, according to a 2019 study entitled ‘From Suicide Due to an Economic-Financial Crisis to the Management of Entrepreneurial Health: Elements of a Biographical Change Management Service and Clinical Implications’, by Gian Piero Turchi, Antonio Iudici, and Elena Faccio.

“Indeed, there is increasing evidence that some periods of economic recession and financial difficulty end up destabilising the identity of many people and professionals (Pompili, 2013; Pompili et al., 2014), until then considered not only mentally healthy but strong contributors to the well-being of thousands of citizens and workers,” it said.

The businesspersons who died by their own hand in 2021 included 4,532 vendors, 3,633 tradesmen, and 3,890 persons engaged in other business, according to the NCRB.

The states recording the highest number of such deaths include Karnataka (14.3 per cent), Maharashtra (13.2 per cent), and Madhya Pradesh (11.3 per cent). Tamil Nadu (9.4 per cent) and Telangana (7.5 per cent) were the other two in the top five.

There were 144 suicides of farmers for every 100 businesspersons dying in this manner in 2015. The number has since come down. Now there are 90 such farmer deaths for every 100 among businesspersons.

The farmer suicide numbers have been criticised in the past on the grounds that women farmers are often classified as housewives instead.

The overall suicide rate has increased from 9.9 per 100,000 people in 2017 to 12 in 2021. Daily wage-earners accounted for the largest segment of people dying by suicide.

There were 42,004 such deaths in 2021. They accounted for 25.6 per cent of the total.

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Sachin P Mampatta in Mumbai
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