Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

A Case–control Study of Psychological Distress in Survivors of Farmers' Suicides in Wardha District in Central India

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

A Case–control Study of Psychological Distress in Survivors of Farmers' Suicides in Wardha District in Central India

Article excerpt

Byline: Manik. Bhise, Prakash. Behere

Context: Lack of literature on psychological aspects of survivors of farmers' suicides is hurdle in devising effective helping strategies for rising number of survivors across the country. Aims and Objectives: To assess the psychological distress and its correlates in survivors of farmers' suicides. Settings and Design: Case–control study design was used in Wardha District of Vidarbha region in the central India. Materials and Methods: A predesigned and pretested semistructured questionnaire was used to assess sociodemographic variables. Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 was used to evaluate psychological distress in 98 survivors of farmers' suicides and 98 age, sex, and occupation-matched controls. Statistical Analysis: Significance of differences between case and control groups were assessed using Chi-square test or Fisher's two-tailed exact test for class variables. For continuous variables, Student's t-test was used P < 0.05 was considered significant. Results: Significantly higher proportion of survivors had psychological distress than controls. Female survivors, spouse and parents of suicide victims had a high risk of distress. Psychological distress was commonly expressed by depressive and somatic symptoms. Conclusions: Survivors of farmers' suicides are suffering from significant psychological distress.

Introduction

Factors peculiar to farming as an industry have been attributed to suicide by farmers across the various cultures.[sup][1] Beginning in early 1990's, there has been a consistent rise in number of farmers' suicides in India.[sup][2] An analysis of data from the National Crime Records Bureau of India reveals that in 12 years period from 1995 to 2006, approximately 200,000 farmers had committed suicides in India and situation has not improved since then.[sup][3] With rising number of farmers' suicides, there is a large number of survivors left behind them. Suicide in a family triggers a wide range of negative outcomes.[sup][4] High rates of anxiety, depression, and pathological grief along with difficulties in social life have been reported among suicide survivors.[sup][5] Though suicide by farmers is reported as special category and studies are available on suicide victims, to the best of our knowledge, there are very few systematic studies focusing exclusively on “farmers” suicide survivors' across the world, and this is the first study from the Indian subcontinent.

Aims and objectives

The present study was undertaken with objective to assess the psychological distress and its correlates in survivors of farmers' suicides.

Materials and Methods

This is a case–control study conducted from July 2008 to December 2009 in wardha District, located in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra State, one of the hotbeds of farmers' suicides.[sup][2] Ethics Committee approval was obtained from the Institute ethics committee for research on human subjects, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sevagram, Wardha, India. A written informed consent was obtained in the local language (Marathi) from the subjects before participating in the study. A team of psychiatry resident and psychologist collected data by home visits.

Selection of survivors

One close relative of all 111 consecutive cases of suicides listed under farmers' suicide category in Wardha District that occurred from April 1, 2007, to March 31, 2008, was approached for participation in the study. This list was provided by the office of District Magistrate Wardha, Government of Maharashtra, India, on their official website.[sup][6] One close relative was interviewed and assessed for the presence of psychological distress. The subject was asked whether he had any psychiatric illness or was on treatment for any mental health problems before the occurrence of suicide in family. If the answer was yes, then other survivor in family without such history was interviewed. …

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