Urgent preventative action for climate-related suicides in rural India

The link between increasingly severe climate events and the rising suicide rate among India’s farmers has long been a concern. But with the latest national data reporting the highest ever number of deaths by suicide, effective action to prevent the risk factors endangering farmers — and the climate events that exacerbate them — is a matter of urgency. In this paper, the authors establish some of the key factors putting farmers at risk and present new analysis of year-on-year data from five drought-prone Indian states, demonstrating how suicide rates are affected by (1) rainfall variation and (2) access to wage employment via social protection schemes. The findings point to four preventative actions that could support farmers to cope with common risk factors by improving local climate resilience and mental health services. This research will resonate in many countries of the global South and North that are struggling with a similar crisis.