What Impacted The Farmer Suicides Rates To Increase By 18% In 2020?

What was the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on accidental fatalities and suicides in India?

The 2020 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, which was issued on October 28th, validates intuitive wisdom on this subject. While the number of traffic accidents and related deaths has lowered majorly, the number of suicides has increased majorly. Students and small business owners had the greatest increase in suicides, correlating with anecdotal descriptions of the pandemic’s disproportionate burden on them.

According to a study issued on Thursday by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of farm labourers who committed suicide in 2020 was 18% higher than the last year. Suicides among landowners, on the other hand, fell somewhat during the pandemic year.


Last year, the agriculture sector was one of the few bright spots in the Indian economy, experiencing growth as a result of a successful monsoon and the continuance of agricultural activities even though a shutdown plagued other sectors. However, landless agricultural labourers who did not benefit from income assistance programmes like PM Kisan’s may have suffered more during the epidemic. The NCRB study makes no mention of the particular reasons for suicide in the agricultural community.

Overall, 10,677 agricultural workers committed suicide in 2020, somewhat more than the 10,281 who perished in 2019. They accounted for 7% of all suicides in the country.

The vast majority of these deaths occurred among persons whose main occupation and the main source of income was agricultural or horticultural labour activities. In 2020, 5,098 of these farm labourers committed suicide, an 18% increase from the 4,324 who perished the last year.

However, the number of suicides among farmworkers who cultivate their land, with or without the help of other labourers, decreased by 3.7 per cent, from 5,129 to 4,940. Suicides among tenant farmers cultivating leased property decreased by 23%, from 828 to 639.

Maharashtra remains the state with the highest number of agricultural worker suicides (4,006), with a 15% rise in farmworker suicides. Karnataka (2016), Andhra Pradesh (889) and Madhya Pradesh are among the other states with a bad track record (735). In Karnataka, the number of farmworker suicides increased by 43 per cent in 2020.

Andhra Pradesh was one of the few states that showed an improvement, with 14% fewer farm workers committing suicide. Tamil Nadu likewise defied the national trend; while the overall number of farm suicides in the state was somewhat higher, the majority of the rise was due to landowners rather than labourers. In contrast to the six landowner farmers who died by suicide in Tennessee in 2019, 76 died in 2020.

2020 now have the fourth largest annum increase in farmer suicide fatalities.

The 2020 report, which covers the period from January to December 2020, reveals a major increase in the number of suicide fatalities. In absolute terms, there were 153,052 suicide fatalities, the greatest number since 1967, the earliest year for which statistics is available. This figure climbed by 10% from 2019 to the fourth-largest year-on-year growth since 1967. To be sure, the rate of such fatalities as a percentage of the population is not unusual. In 2020, the number of suicides was 11.3 when adjusted for population per lakh. While this is the highest percentage in the recent ten years, the rate in 2010 was 11.4 per cent.

Was lockdown stress a major cause of the spike in suicides for farmers?

When one examines the data for students and professionals, the answer appears to be yes. Education was one of the most major collateral effects of the pandemic since schools and universities remained shut even after the 68-day severe lockdown that began in March had ended.

According to a study issued by the Ministry of Education on October 7, 29 million students in India do not have access to digital gadgets. There have been multiple cases of students committing suicide due to a lack of resources to finish their education online.

According to the survey, small company owners suffered more than paid professionals. Vendor and tradesman suicides surged by 26.1 per cent and 49.9 per cent, respectively. To be sure, merchants and tradespeople are a subset of self-employed people, who have seen a 7.8 per cent gain overall.

All of these figures indicate that the pandemic’s financial and educational costs have been humongous high in India.

A cause-by-cause examination of farmer suicide fatalities supports such a result.

Poverty (69 %) and unemployment (24 %) increased the most among suicide factors that account for at least a fraction of such deaths. Following that are drug or alcohol addiction (17%), sickness (16%), and family troubles (14%). Although there has been an upsurge in suicides among students, it is more likely to be tied to longer-term prospects (maybe incapacity to continue education) rather than just tests.

Suicides owing to test failure decreased by 24%, whereas those related to professional/career concerns climbed by 11%.However, the limits reduced the number of unintentional deaths.

During the 68-day lockdown, images of desolate roadways and civic spaces went viral. This also resulted in a major decrease in the number of traffic accidents and related deaths. According to the ADSI analysis, unintentional deaths, of which traffic accidents account for around 40%, are expected to decrease by 11% in 2020. In 2020, there were 374,397 unintentional fatalities. This is the lowest amount since 2009 when there were 357,021 such fatalities. In comparison to 2019, such deaths were down 11.1 per cent. Only twice since 1967 has the year-on-year growth rate been negative: in 1971 and 1974.

While the number of fatalities from natural causes decreased by 9.1 per cent, the lockout had a different influence on various heads. While the number of sunstroke deaths decreased by 744 between 2019 and 2020 — the lockdown was implemented during peak summer – flood deaths jumped from 948 to 959. Drowning, sudden fatalities, and poisoning were the only major non-natural causes of unintentional deaths that increased from 2019 to 2020.

In September, the NCRB issued the 2020 Crime in India report, which showed a major increase in the number of offences, owing mostly to persons being prosecuted for breaking Covid-19 standards.


Edited by Anupama Roy

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