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New evidence of suicide epidemic among India's 'marginalized' farmers
Date:4/17/2014

A new study has found that India's shocking rates of suicide are highest in areas with the most debt-ridden farmers who are clinging to tiny smallholdings less than one hectare and trying to grow 'cash crops', such as cotton and coffee, that are highly susceptible to global price fluctuations.

The research supports a range of previous case studies that point to a crisis in key areas of India's agriculture sector following the 'liberalisation' of the nation's economy during the 90s. Researchers say that policy intervention to stabilise the price of cash crops and relieve indebted farmers may help stem the tide of suicide that has swept the Indian countryside.

This latest work follows on from a recent Lancet study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which showed Indian suicide rates to be among the highest in the world with suicide the second leading cause of death among young adults in India.

In 2010, 187,000 Indians killed themselves one fifth of all global suicides.

However, while the Lancet study revealed suicide rates in rural areas to be almost double those of urban areas, and the most common method of suicide to be deliberately ingesting pesticide, the LSHTM authors did not believe they had enough evidence to show suicide rates are higher in farmers.

Suicide rates vary sharply across the different Indian states. Building on the LSHTM study, researchers from Cambridge and UCL analysed suicide figures of 18 Indian states as well as national crime and census statistics and surveying done by the Ministry of Agriculture to create data models that investigated whether case studies of "farmer suicide" that concentrate on a few suicide hotspots could be generalised across India.

The team, from the Cambridge University's Department of Sociology and University College London's Department of Political Science, say they have found significant ca
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Contact: Jonathan Kennedy
jk428@cam.ac.uk
44-793-841-4350
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

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