Research Summary

Young Lives Matter : Assessing determinants of suicide attempts in young people in India: a case-control study in Pune

What is the aim of my study?

The primary aim of my study is to investigate the reasons for suicide attempts among 15-29 year-olds in India. A secondary aim is to study similarities and differences between deliberate self-harm (less lethal injuries with lower intent to die) and medically serious suicide attempts (more lethal injuries with higher intent to die).

Why is this important?

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people in India. Nearly 60% of all suicides in women, and 40% of all suicides in men occur in 15-29 year-olds. Suicide attempts are 10-20 more times more common, and a third of those who attempt suicide die by suicide later. The Govt of India has recently passed the Mental Health Care Act 2017 which states their commitment to provide treatment for those who make suicide attempts and develop programs to prevent suicide attempts in the future. Yet no one knows why this is happening in India. We often hear of “failure in examinations”, “family problems” or “drug use” but there has been no scientific study investigating the relative importance of these factors and how they lead to suicide attempts. There is also no evidence as to what factors prevent or protect persons from attempting suicide. This gap in knowledge is a significant barrier to designing contextually appropriate prevention programs for young people.

What is the method?

My study is a case-control study. I will compare those who present with suicide attempts at hospitals, with persons of the same age and gender, from the same neighbourhood, to see how frequently potential risk and protective factors are present in each group. To collect information on these factors I will conduct semi-structured interviews with persons and their family members.  

What will be the outputs?

I hope to arrive at a set of risk and protective factors for suicide attempts in India. I then expect to make recommendations for the development of public health programs for the prevention of these among young people in India, and also recommendations for any strategies that can be used for specific suicide outcomes (deliberate self-harm vs medically serious suicide attempts).