More than 20,000 Indian housewives took their own lives last year - averaging 61 suicides daily, or one every 25 minutes.

Recently released data by the country's National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed that there were 22,372 suicide cases involving housewives reported last year - which forms 14.6 per cent of the total 153,052 suicides, and more than 50 per cent of the total number of female victims involved.

Although no reason was explicitly stated in the NCRB report, mental health experts believe that domestic violence is a major factor for this worrying numbers, as more than 30 per cent of women surveyed in a recent government study have said that they have faced spousal violence.

According to the BBC, this is not a new occurrence. The number of housewives-related suicides has remained above 20,000 since the NCRB started compiling data in 1997, and in the year 2009, the numbers even rose to a staggering 25,092.

"Women are really resilient, but there's a limit to tolerance," Dr Usha Verma Srivastava, a clinic psychologist based in the northern city of Varanasi told BBC.

With most Indian girls married off as soon as they turn 18, they have to then contend with spending their daily mundane lives with performing household chores, with little personal or financial freedom, she said.

"Her education and dreams no longer matter and her ambition begins to extinguish slowly, and despair and disappointment set in, and the mere existence become torture."

As for cases involving older women, the causes for suicide can range from "empty nest syndrome" after their children have grown up and left home, to per-menopausal symptoms which can cause depression and crying spells, Usha said.

This is why support is crucial to stem the number of suicides, another expert told the news outlet.

Chaitali Sinha, a psychologist with Bangalore-based mental health app Wysa said that women formed little support groups while travelling in loca trains, or with neighbours they meet while buying vegetables.

"They had no other avenue to express themselves, and sometimes, their sanity depended on this conversation they could have with just one person," she said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown had worsened the situation, as the victims could no longer travel or go out without restrictions, in addition to being trapped with their abusers.

"So anger, hurt and sadness builds over time and suicide becomes their last resort."

India has the dubious honour of having the highest suicide rate globally, with Indian men making up a quarter of the global suicides, while women making up 36 per cent of global suicide numbers in the 15 to 39 years age group.

Psychiatrist Soumitra Pathare, however, believes that the numbers are under-reported, as suicides have huge shame and stigma attached to it, and as such, the majority of cases get concealed.

Until this hobbled data gathering is fixed, reducing the suicide rate in India will remain a pipe dream, he lamented.

Source: BBC
Photo source: Getty Images via BBC