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Unjust Humanity
Skyrocketing suicide rate of married men 17 December, 2008
Family problems have emerged as one of the primary causes of suicide by men, attributing 23.8 per cent. Over the last year, suicide among married men have gone up by 3.8 per cent and by 28 per cent over the last decade (1997 - 2007).
SAVE INDIAN Family Foundation (SIFF), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), to promote the cause of gender equality and family harmony, will be conducting a press conference on December 22, aiming to bring forth the alarming rise of suicide cases and the causes underlying it. Recently, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) published the suicide statistics and analysis for the year 2007.

Some shocking and heart rendering facts have come to light. Over the last year, suicide rate amongst men have gone up by 3.8 per cent and by 28 per cent over the last decade (1997 - 2007). Family problems have emerged as one of the primary causes for these suicides, attributing 23.8 per cent. Moreover, for 16.6 per cent suicide cases, the causes were unknown. Allocating proportionately from this category for family problems, the contribution goes up to 27.75 per cent.

The number of suicides committed by married men is 57,593 whereas that by married women is 30,064. It seams that almost double the number of married men have committed suicide as compared to married women. Also, if one goes by the analysis of the year 2006, 30 per cent of suicides are due to domestic disputes. So in 2006, close to 16,500 married men committed suicide only because of domestic abuse.

Also there is a 33 per cent rise in suicides in the last decade (1996-2006). Hence in 1996, around 11500 married men must have committed suicide because of domestic violence, which gives us an average of 14000 suicide cases per year.

For 2007, the figure works out close to 16000. Hence in 11 years, 156,000 married men have committed suicide due to domestic violence.

Yet, the government did not take any strict measures to protect these men. Society ridicules these suicides by passing off these men as weak and irresponsible and cites financial reasons as the cause of their suicide. On the contrary, for the years 2006 and 2007 as per NCRB, the suicides due to financial reasons are only five per cent.

If we compare the suicide rates between married men and married women, we find that the suicide rate of married men has increased six times in proportion to that of women. Suicide rate for married men have increased by 3.87 per cent over the last year, whereas for married women, the suicide rate has increased only 0.65 per cent, which is a whopping six times less than that of married men.

It is also worthwhile to note here that there is a high density of suicides occurring between the age group of 30 and 59. 82.7 per cent suicide cases of men have been noted in this age group as these are the main years when a man rears and raises his family by getting married and fathering children. But marriage itself has become so stressful for men that either they can live through it or part from it.

However, a positive trend has also been noticed in the suicide analysis. In the year 2007, suicides due to domestic abuse have reduced by 2.13 per cent. This year also noticed a surge in the activity by Save Indian Family and related NGOs about the ongoing legal terrorism and the presence of a support group to help its victims. The efforts of the 15000 odd members of the NGOs to create awareness about the misuse of Section 498 A of the Indian Panel Code (IPC) and other marital laws drawn in favour of women and provide support to those men who are falsely implicated in these laws for extortion has worked wonders.

SIFF feels proud to announce that its efforts has saved around 700 lives that could have been lost due to unwarranted unleashing of legal terrorism on innocent Indian citizens. As is evident from the suicide statistics, family problem is the number one killer for men as 57593 married men have committed suicide as opposed to 30064 married women. SIFF feels that men are unnecessarily cornered and thus having no option left, they are forced to commit suicide. There is no communication channel provided to men to vent out their problems.

SIFF has found that by merely providing this communication channel to men who approach SIFF. It has helped them immensely in avoiding suicide and its tendencies.

A communication channel that does not invalidate their pain and grief and does not justify their problems, which unfortunately the society hesitates in giving it to them but does expect sacrifices from them in the name of bearing family responsibilities and compromise to keep the marriage intact. SIFF has also found that many men develop suicidal tendencies as they are denied access to their children by their estranged wives and in-laws.

Psychologists often put this argument that men do not express yet they fail to observe that men cannot communicate if they are not given the needed channel to communicate. It has been our experience at SIFF and other related NGOs that men do communicate about their problems to us, as they get the necessary communication channel.

SIFF urged the society to provide that communication channel to men in order to stop the rising rate of suicides by men and surging distrust amongst men for the society and the system.

Men are simply left to fend for themselves by the government and in the name of vote bank the government turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to the problems of men. SIFF has been creating awareness about the problems that men are facing at present, like- the fear of false dowry cases and losing everything with one false complaint, high suicide rates, absence of protection/shelter from domestic abuse, to name a few. Unfortunately, these concerns and cries have fallen on deaf ears.

In this press conference, SIFF raises a question to the government as to what steps has it planned to arrest the surmounting and skyrocketing suicide rates for men in general and married men in particular. In addition to this, SIFF would also like to know the views of independent and parallel social agencies like the United Nations, World Economic Forum on such large scale suicides by men.

In light of the above facts, SIFF demands the following from the government:

1. Set up a Men’s Welfare Ministry and a National Commission for men to study the problems faced by men and provide solutions for them.

2. Allocate budget for men’s welfare.

3. Make family an issue in the upcoming elections.

4. Conduct a national debate on family issues and break down of family system involving various social and international agencies like the United Nations, World Economic Forum etc.

5. Form a study circle consisted of people from different walks of life especially, citizens, members from SIFF and retired judges to study the problems of men, husbands and propose alternative solutions to the same.

6. Provide shelter to men trapped in domestic/partner violence.

7. Give unemployment benefits to unemployed men at the rate of Rs 600 per month till employment.

8. Make all marital laws civil and gender neutral in nature.

9. Allow men to take custody of their children as a parent and not as a visitor or a weekend TV programme.

10. Promulgate the concept of shared parenting for erring couples.

11. Make divorces quick and easier so that young men and women do not waste useful years in unnecessary litigations.

Save Indian Family Foundation urges the society, the media, the government and various other social agencies to take note of the alarming suicide rates among men and take necessary steps to arrest it. The society is urged to provide men a communication channel, the media is urged to create awareness about it, while the government is urged to provide men with protection and lastly the social agencies like the United Nations and World Economic Forum are urged to consider suicides of men as part of their study agenda.

About The Author
Virag R Dhulia, a software professional, has been a prominent men's rights activist. He has been engaged in creating awareness about the abuse of men and their families through anti-male and gender biased laws like Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act etc. He has been instrumental in networking with fellow men's rights activist both across India and abroad and has played key roles in organizing events to create awareness about abuse of men by the society. A book titled, 'The Secrets of Manhood' authored by Virag has been published. This book is a collection of short articles which focus on issues and problems faced by men and how men are victims of social stereotypes.
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