The suicide rate reaches its highest level in 2021; crimes and accidents are approaching 2019 levels | Latest India News


At 120 deaths per million population, India’s suicide death rate in 2021 hit the highest level on record, up 6.1% from the previous year, according to new data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), highlighting the toll of the pandemic appears to have assumed the emotional well-being of Indians. In contrast, the trend in crime rates as well as accidental deaths has started to approach pre-pandemic levels, according to the data.



The fastest increase in suicide deaths has been seen among students and small business owners, much like what was seen in the 2020 edition of the reports, supporting anecdotal accounts of prolonged pandemic-induced stress.

These findings are from the Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India (ADSI) and Crime in India (CII) reports for 2021, both of which were released by the NCRB under the Union Home Ministry and were released on Saturday.

Data shows that a total of 164,033 people died by suicide in 2021, an increase of 7.2% from 2020, when 153,052 people died by suicide, according to the data. In 2019, that figure was around 139,000.

At 120 deaths per million population, 2021 also saw the highest suicide death rate since 1967, the first year for which this data is available. The second highest suicide rate ever reported in the country dates back to 2010, with 113.5 deaths per million population.



The data also shows that people in the lowest income group (people earning less than 1 lakh per year), which account for about two-thirds of suicide deaths, recorded the largest increase in suicide deaths in 2021.

Among the professions, the self-employed and daily betting recorded the highest increase in deaths by suicide, followed by employees and students (see graph 1). Admittedly, students had recorded a much larger increase than employees in 2020. The increase in 2021 compared to 2019 is greater among students than among employees. Among farmers of different types, suicide deaths increased only among farm workers, which was also the case in 2020.



Accidents and crimes catch up with pre-2020 numbers

In 2020, crimes had risen sharply, but the numbers were inflated because large numbers of people had been arrested for breaking pandemic-related rules. On the other hand, accidents have decreased because there have been fewer traffic accidents and deaths by suicide have increased sharply, probably due to closures disrupting daily activity.

The relatively relaxed closures until 2021 had (as expected) a much lower impact on crime and accidents. Crime cases fell from 6.6 million in 2020 to 6.1 million in 2021 because lockdowns were less severe and fewer people were charged with violating them.

Softer lockdowns also caused more traffic accidents and the total number of accidental deaths rose from 374,000 to 397,000.



Accidental deaths due to the forces of nature – such as those due to earthquakes, floods or heat – were fewer in 2021 than in 2020. They fell from 7,405 in 2020 to 7,126 in 2021. These deaths were 8,145 in 2019. Accidental deaths from other causes – such as traffic accidents – have increased. Traffic accidents account for about 40% of all accidental deaths in India. They fell from 146,354 in 2020 to 173,860 in 2021. However, these deaths remained lower than in 2019, when 181,113 of these deaths occurred.

Crimes on the rise again?

As explained above, overall crimes declined in 2021 solely due to a drop in pandemic-related offences, which are recorded under three subheadings: “Disobeying an order duly issued by an official” and “Other ICC Crimes” among the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and “Other SLL Crimes” under Special and Local Laws (SLL). Excluding these subheadings from the calculations shows that crimes increased in 2021 compared to 2019 and 2020.



Non-pandemic crimes were 4.8 million in 2019, 4.6 million in 2020 and 5 million in 2021. Admittedly, ICC crimes remained below the pre-pandemic level at 2.8 million in 2021 (they were 2.9 million in 2019), although they have increased compared to 2020, when 2.6 million such crimes were recorded. SLL crimes unrelated to the violation of Covid-19 rules, which had increased even in 2020, increased again by 8.6% in 2021 to reach 2.2 million.

Among the most frequent ICC crimes, those related to property (they represent 20% to 25% of ICC crimes) saw the highest increase in 2021 of 18.5%, followed by those affecting the human body ( growth of 5.1%), which account for approximately one-quarter to one-third of CPI crimes (see Chart 2).



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