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Study says S. India has highest young suicide rate
Updated: 2004-04-02 09:41

Family conflicts, domestic violence, failed romances and mental illness have pushed the suicide rate of young people in southern India to the highest in the world, researchers said Friday.

Suicide accounts for one-half to three-quarters of all deaths in young women and a quarter of deaths in young men in the region.

"We have identified rates of suicide that are several-fold higher than those reported anywhere in the world, especially in young women," said Dr Anuradha Bose, of the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, in a study in The Lancet medical journal.

There were 148 suicides per 100,000 young women in the study and 58 per 100,000 for boys, compared to the average suicide rate worldwide of 14.5.

Hanging and poisoning with pesticides, which are easily available in rural areas, were the most common causes of death.

"The high suicide rates emphasize the need to recognize adolescent suicide as major public health problem, with an urgent need for intervention," Bose added.

Suicide is a leading cause of death in 15-19 year olds worldwide. In 2000, an estimated 815,000 young people took their own lives.

It is usually more common in young men than women but Bose and his colleagues uncovered a high rate of female suicides in their study.

In a commentary on the research in the journal, Wun Jung Kim and Tanvir Singh of the Medical College of Ohio in the United States said higher suicide rates among girls have also been reported in China and Singapore.

They suggested that cultural and religious factors and changes in political and economic systems could be contributing factors.

"One can surmise that intergenerational and gender conflicts are more intense in traditional agricultural society transforming into an egalitarian industrial society than in stable, developed countries," they said.

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