ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Thinking Clearly About Suicide: Desperate Housewives, Despairing Farmers

The patterns of suicide in India are quite different to those observed in industrialised societies. Those differences must lead us to question many generalisations which almost approach sociological “law” such as the protection against suicide afforded by marriage. This paper contrasts media coverage of farmer suicides in India with the near total neglect of the suicides of housewives, though there are more than three housewife suicides for every one of a farmer. The research presented in this paper was initially supported by a grant from the Australian Research Council. Portions of the paper...

Thinking Clearly about Suicide in India—III

The rapid rise in suicide rates above 15 per lakh persons for teenaged males generated great public concern in Australia in the 1980s. Considered a “crisis” level, this led to an intense study of the causes of youth suicide as well as intensive efforts to devise public health programmes to assist young people at the risk of suicide. Reaching a peak in 1991, teenage male suicide rates have fallen steadily and are now less than 10 per lakh. In India, youth suicide rates vary greatly between states for males and females. For young males, suicide rates in 28, and for females in 12 states and union territories were at or above the crisis level. Yet there has been virtually no public recognition of the level or seriousness of youth suicide.

Thinking Clearly about Suicide in India — II

Relative to men, women in India are much more likely to take their own lives than women living in industrialised societies. They do so at higher rates and at younger ages than many of those in the West. Marriage does not confer any relative protection from suicide risk for young Indian men; this too is a notable contrast with the evidence from developed economies. There are many potential stressors on Indian women which might explain the pattern of suicide risk. Changes in expectations about marriage relationships appear to be one potent factor in explaining the patterns.

Thinking Clearly about Suicide in India — I

The patterns of suicide in India are quite different to those observed in industrialised societies. Those differences must lead us to question many generalisations which almost approach sociological "law" such as the protection against suicide afforded by marriage. This paper contrasts media coverage of farmer suicides in India with the near total neglect of the suicides of housewives, though there are more than three housewife suicides for every one of a farmer.

Human Development and Civic Community in India

This paper tries to show that the central methodology of Robert Putnam's Making Democracy Work can be fruitfully applied to the study of the Indian states. It reports some of the results of the author's replication of Putnam's Italian study for the states. While a clear relationship can be demonstrated between state government performance in development and levels of civic engagement, it is harder to replicate Putnam's findings concerning the crucial role of social capital. In the Indian context, levels of education are more important and the implications of this unexpected result are addressed.
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