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Mental Health

The Surge in Women’s Suicide Rates Among Homemakers

A 2021 report revealed that, in India, nearly 1 woman commits suicide every 9 minutes. About 23,178 women homemakers committed suicide that year, amounting to almost 63 suicides every single day.

Nov 10, 2023

3 min read

Written by Rhea Kadakia
Medically Reviewed by 

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An illustration of a woman curled up in the foetus position with an unhappy expression

Women are often viewed as the pillars of Indian society. Strong, infallible and omnipresent in everyday life. They take on the herculean task of caregiving, caring for their families and themselves, putting everyone’s needs before theirs.

Unfortunately, seeing women as superheroes often distracts us from the underlying problem: their deteriorating mental health. 

A report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) revealed that 45,026 women died by suicide in India in 2021, nearly 1 every 9 minutes. 23,178 were homemakers. Nearly 63 women homemakers committed suicide every day in 2021.

Why is there a spike in suicide rates among homemakers?

Since 1997, NCRB began compiling suicide data based on occupation; every year since, more than 20,000 homemakers have been killing themselves. Mental health experts explain this through the lens of rampant domestic violence sweeping the country.

24% of married urban women have experienced spousal violence, and 2.5% of these women have also experienced spousal violence while pregnant.

The report further revealed that nearly two-thirds – 63.69% (28,680) – of women suicide victims were married.

Tanushree Baikar-Talekar, a psychologist with the Samarpan Mental Health Counselling Centre, contributes the rising number of suicides among homemakers to the lack of mental health awareness and resources in the country.

She says, "I do believe domestic violence is a large part of why women commit suicide, but I also believe it’s because they don’t know they can get help, and they think suicide is their only way out. More often than not, women know that domestic violence is wrong but don’t have the resources to get the help they need to get out of the situation."

A seminal Lancet Public Health study (2018) on suicides in Indian women speculates that the reason behind the increasing rate of women’s suicides may be related to a conflict between women’s increasing education and empowerment and the persistence of their lower status in Indian society.

Blog quote

I do believe domestic violence is a large part of why women commit suicide, but I also believe it’s because they don’t know they can get help, and they think suicide is their only way out.

Tanushree Baikar-Talekar, Psychologist, Samarpan Mental Health Counselling Centre

Causes that contribute to the increased suicide rate in women

As per the NCBR report, the most common causes behind women’s suicide were family problems, which usually manifested after marriage, marital problems and undiagnosed or untreated mental illness. 43.25% of suicides in women due to illness were because of mental illness.

This problem particularly plagues educated, young Indian women. Nearly 67.5% – 2,757 – of female suicides over marital issues were below the age of 30.

A country rich with culture and tradition, India is a developing nation. However, in certain aspects, it is still rooted in the past with plenty of gender disparity. One of these aspects is the treatment of women in traditional family settings. Women are expected not to work; their sole responsibility is that of a homemaker.

Should women choose to work, it must not come in the way of their primary role as caretakers and managers of the household. Regressive thinking like this often leaves women feeling trapped in their lives with nowhere to go and unable to reach out for help. This is one of the core reasons behind the increase in women’s suicide rate.

A snapshot of the cause-wise distribution of suicide in women in 2021
Family Problems Marital ProblemsMental Health IllnessExtra-marital AffairsImpotence/Infertility

The lack of resources to support women in need

The problem with increased suicide rates is multi-faceted; it can be attributed to different factors ranging from lack of education, being educated and empowered, to lack of resources.

The problem, however, is disturbingly relevant.

In 2016, women in India accounted for 36% of global female suicide deaths despite making up only 18% of the world’s female population.

Here are some resources to help anyone who has mental illness, suicidal thoughts or domestic violence

  • SNEHA for domestic violence: +91 9167535765, +91 9833052684,
  • Samaritans Mumbai for mental health counselling and suicidal thoughts: +91 8422984528, +91 8422984529, +91 8422984530,
  • Voice that Cares for psychosocial counselling support: 8448844845 
  • KIRAN for mental health rehabilitation (24x7, 13 regional languages, toll-free): 1800-599-0019
  • Fortis Stress Helpline (24x7 and 15 different languages): 08376804102

Medically reviewed by:

Dr. B. S. Mahesh, Clinical Psychologist

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