LONDON: Suicide is the second most common cause of death for young people in India, a country with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, research published on Friday showed.
The first ever national survey of deaths in India found that some 56 percent of all women who took their own lives in 2010 and 40 percent of men were aged between 15 and 29.
Almost as many young women in India die from suicide as die from complications in pregnancy and childbirth, scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found. In the same age bracket, the leading cause of death for men is transport accidents.
The study found that suicide claims twice as many young lives in India as HIV and AIDS.
The most common form of suicide death was poisoning, mainly by swallowing pesticides. Hanging was the second most common cause for men and women, and burns accounted for about a sixth of suicides by women.
Vikram Patel, a professor of international mental health who led the study, said despite this high death toll, suicide gets far less public attention in India than maternal deaths or AIDS.
He said he hoped the research would help convince authorities to improve mental health care in a country where many have no access to suicide prevention programs or care for mental illnesses such as depression. “India is currently in the process of revising the National Mental Health Program and we hope that the study findings will provide evidence to improve mental health care in India,” he said. The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, underscored some differences with trends observed in other parts of the world.