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 were presented to the Seminar on Asia’s Emerging Middle Class, University of Wollongong, 10-11 August 2006 and at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Chicago, 26–30 April 2009. The author acknowledges the comments provided by an anonymous referee of this journal. Peter Mayer ( teaches at the Politics Department, University of Adelaide, Australia.

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