Ideological Cause and Hero Worship Related Suicides: Indian Perspective and Changing Trends during 2001–2014: An Exploratory Study

By Mohandoss, Anusa | Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, November-December 2016 | Go to article overview

Ideological Cause and Hero Worship Related Suicides: Indian Perspective and Changing Trends during 2001–2014: An Exploratory Study


Mohandoss, Anusa, Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine


Byline: Anusa. Mohandoss

Background: Of the various causes of suicides in India, very less number commit it for an ideological cause or due to hero worship (IHW). The prevalence and changing trends in IHW suicides are not much discussed. An attempt is made to draw attention to this subset of suicides during 2001–2014. Materials and Methods: Accessible data from the National Crime Bureau Records in open domain was employed for this study. As only whole sum numbers associated with state, age groups, and genders and years were only available parameters, descriptive statistics of rate of suicides, linear trend with age groups, gender, and geographical divisions are presented. Results: In 14 years period, 1,721,946 suicides with an average of 122,996 suicides per year were observed. In total, a sum of 2395 IHW related suicides was noted accounting an average 171 suicides per year was observed. The difference among genders and age group with respect to various parts of India is presented. Southern India and in particular, Tamil Nadu consistently had the highest IHW related suicides. Discussion: The possible causes behind this unique phenomenon, cultural ethos, and implication are presented. In addition, the implication of changing trends in terms of geographical distribution, age group distribution, and gender dynamics are presented and discussed.

Introduction

A completed suicide often is a disastrous, self-termination of life caused by a large number of contributory and or interaction of several factors including, but not limited to biological, socio- ethno-religious-cultural, environmental, and psychological causes.[sup][1] The Indian subcontinent is plagued by huge number of suicides with certain parts of India, exhibiting as high as fifty suicides per lakh of population in any given year.[sup][1],[2] The background of the individual besides the intrinsic, cultural inheritance of the land has a significant influence on the suicidal idealization.[sup][3],[4] The suicide pattern in India is undergoing a rapid transformation, requiring a paradigm shift in the suicidal research and response pattern.[sup][3] Furthermore, this calls for an immediate attention as mental health policies need to be updated to accommodate such shifting dynamics.[sup][1]

In a recent manuscript about suicide trends in India, the influence of the cultural ethos has been related to. Of interest is the emergence of a recently, increasing phenomenon of suicide due to predominantly altruistic suicide form of a hero worship or due to loss/death of their beloved personalities.[sup][1] Furthermore, a similar, related phenomenon is suicide for a cause to which they are closely devoted. The famous examples would be the spate of suicides including the Potti Sriramulu's fasting for creation of Telugu language based state of Andhra Pradesh, the peri-Mandal commission implementation agitation, anti-Hindi agitation in Tamil Nadu and suicides related to death/arrest of prominent political leaders.[sup][5] Few authors cite this to be associated with “copycat phenomenon” and few others differ.[sup][1],[4],[6]

A literature search on this phenomenon yielded less pertinent literature.[sup][6] Hence, an attempt is made to present to study the characteristics and changing trend of suicides due to ideological causes and hero worship (IHW) in India, during the period 2001–2014.

Materials and Methods

The data for this study were collected from the Indian National Crime Bureau records (NCBR) (http://ncrb.nic.in) and the Union Government of India's open data initiative https://data.gov.in. The authenticity of this data source had been an issue of contention but in the absence of such records in public domain, this data source serves us to provide a robust estimate of the trend and several publications have been based on this government data.[sup][1],[2],[4]

From the archives of the NCBR, all the numbers suicides between 2001 and 2014 were collected and collated. …

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