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Low earnings, debt traps driving suicide rate among Punjab's farm labourers: Study

Farmers thrash rice paddy at a field in Jalandhar district of Punjab. File photo for representational purpose only.

Farmers thrash rice paddy at a field in Jalandhar district of Punjab. File photo for representational purpose only.

A study by the Ludhiana-based Punjab Agricultural University has said the agrarian crisis in the State has pushed the farm labourers towards low earnings and debt traps and has led them towards death by suicide. The study reveals that 7,303 labourers died by suicide during 2000–18.

The study titled ‘Agrarian Crisis and Agricultural Labourer Suicides in Punjab’ points out that 79% of the cases happened because of the heavy debt burden, while the rest due to other socio-economic factors. The trend indicates the likelihood of continuation of this tragic phenomenon.

“Sadly, the spate of suicides was not limited to a single family member. In many families, the trend was more ghastly, wherein two or more persons died by suicide. Over 96% families were victims of a single suicide. However, in 238 families (3.4%), two persons per family died by suicide. The intensity of the suicide can be observed from the fact that in 30 families, three persons each ended their lives. The economic distress was deep rooted to the extent that three families had four or more suicide cases. Thus, the glory of the green revolution belt failed to trace these grieving families,” said the study jointly conducted by noted economist Sukhpal Singh along with Manjeet Kaur and H.S. Kingra.

The study said unlike the common belief, it was found that more than half of the victims (52.16%) were teetotallers and only 23.27% were addicts. “Among the addicts, about 10% were alcoholic, 10.52% were synthetic drug abusers and 2.65% were addicted to opium/poppy husk consumption. Further, around one-fourth rarely consumed alcohol or any other intoxicant.”

Those in distress or having suicidal tendencies could seek help and counselling by calling any of the following numbers: Sanjivini, Society for Mental Health - 011-4076 9002, Monday-Saturday, 10 am -7.30 pm More suicide prevention helplines

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 10:16:04 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/low-earnings-debt-traps-driving-suicide-rate-in-punjab-study/article34190593.ece