Rising Suicide Rates in India Alarm Church

Exam-Stress and Poverty Among the Factors

NEW DELHI, India, SEPT. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church in India has appealed for cooperation among the country’s social forces to address effectively the tragedy of suicides, amounting to tens of thousands a year.

On Sunday, the Indian bishops’ conference published a note on its Web site on the occasion of Suicide Prevention Day, stating that “ironically, the suicide rate is rising alarmingly in India.”

Civil authorities link the high rate of suicide to exam-stress, but also to “poverty, dowry menace and indebtedness,” says the episcopal conference.

In this connection, the conference mentions “the recent incidents of mass suicide of farmers in Vidarbha,” in the states of Maharashtra and Kerala.

The menace is more acute in the southern states. According to the bishops’ conference, some 50,000 people in the four southern states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and the Union Territory of Pondicherry end their lives every year.

“The central government on [its] part has announced a special relief package for the farmers,” the bishops’ conference stated, “but the farmers feel that the aid is on paper only and can do little to help them, as most of the banks have stopped giving fresh loans to the farmers without which they cannot cultivate their lands.”

The episcopal conference also mentions the result of a recent survey by a group based in Tamil Nadu, according to which more than 100,000 people commit suicide in India annually.

“The need of the hour,” said the bishops’ statement, “is a collaborative effort on the part of the faith-based institutions, voluntary organizations and the government authorities so that a check may be kept on this growing menace before things get out of control.”

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