Young, unmarried farmers more prone to suicides, says study | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Young, unmarried farmers more prone to suicides, says study

A new study on farmers' suicide has revealed that young and unmarried farmers are more prone to suicides. Increasing frustration among young farmers because of agrarian crisis is compelling farmers to commit suicides.

punjab Updated: Jun 05, 2014 20:42 IST
Navrajdeep Singh

A new study on farmers' suicide has revealed that young and unmarried farmers are more prone to suicides. Increasing frustration among young farmers because of agrarian crisis is compelling farmers to commit suicides.

Titled "Agrarian distress in Punjab: a study of suicides by farmers and agricultural labourers", the study concludes that half of the farmers who committed suicides are below the age of 35 years and out of them 26 per cent were unmarried.

This revelations is different from earlier studies that summarize that exorbitant expenditure on farming equipment and marriage functions, lead farmers to commit suicides.

The new study points at stress and hardships faced by young and middle-aged farmers.

The study is conducted by Punjabi university economists Lakhwinder Singh, Kesar Singh Bhangoo and Rakesh Sharma, who have recently submitted their project details to the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research, New Delhi, which sponsored the study. The study is conducted in districts of Sangrur, Bathinda and Mansa.

The study is unique and first of its kind in the northern region, as it has also tried to draw correlation between farmers' suicide victims and farmers facing such situation (on the brink of same situation when farmer commits suicides), so that it can suggest working solutions for governments by interviewing them.

The study focused on 510 suicide cases of farmers and 186 that of farm labourers which happened during the period between 2000-2010 in Sangrur, Bathinda and Mansa districts, and same number of famers who are on the brink of it -called the control group.

Out of total 510 farmers who ended their lives, 248 farmers were below the age of 35 years, while 209 farmers who killed themselves were between the age group of 36 to 55 years and 53 famers, who were above 56 years of age ended their lives.

"From this it can be safely concluded that agrarian distress has been affecting young farmers and young agricultural labourers in Punjab. The young and middle-aged farmers have been feeling stress and hardships while facing the agrarian crisis," Kesar Singh Bhangoo said.

"Comparatively higher percentage of unmarried farmers and agricultural labourers among the deceased group may be due to the absence of support from the spouses in time of crisis," he added.

In the case of farm labourers, out of 186 cases, 107 were below the age of 35 years and 61 and 18 labourers killed themselves at the age between 36-55 years and above 56 years, respectively.

In Sangrur district only, out of 199 farmers researched during the project, 100 farmers who committed suicide were below the age group of 35 years.

However, in Bathinda, out of 172 deceased farmers, 69 farmers who were below the age of 35 succumbed to agrarian crisis. Eightyone farmers who ended their lives were between the age of 36-55 years.

In Mansa, out of 139 farmer suicide cases, 73 farmers were below the age of 35 years, while 51 cases happened at age in between 36-55 years.

"Highly distressed, this group has committed maximum suicides as compared to middle aged and elder farmers and labourers. This demonstrates the emerging stress and hardships faced by young and middle aged farmers while enduring the agrarian crisis. The analysis clearly shows that the distress also engulfed the women members of the households of farmers and agricultural labourers as some women members of the households also committed suicides due to economic distress," study concludes.

Jat Sikhs, more vulnerable

In the caste-wise analysis, 481 farmers out of total 510 deceased cases, belonged to Jat Sikh families in above three districts. Besides it, nine such cases were reported from other backward class, six from Brahmin and 14 from the schedule caste community.

However, in case of farm labourers suicide cases 164 labourers out of 186 families, who ended their lives, belonged to the scheduled caste community, while 11 were from Jat Sikh family besides 4 were from other backward class and seven from Brahmin community.

Illiteracy, another factor

Among the deceased farmers and agricultural labourers, none of them were postgraduate and professionally qualified and only few were graduates

Out of total 510 deceased farmers, 287 were illiterate, while 67 had their education till primary level, 71 at middle and 61 at matriculation department. However, in case of farm labourers, around 78 per cent of them were illiterate as out of 186, 146 didn't even go to school or left it at every early age. None of them had studied above higher secondary, while two of them cleared 10+2.

Meanwhile, 16 studied at primary, 14 at middle and eight at matriculation level.