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Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

The Minister of State (Home) Nityanand Rai, citing the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data on Wednesday, said in a written reply at the Rajya Sabha that in the past three years over 25000 people across the country have ended their lives by suicide. 

The major reasons behind the suicides were unemployment and loan burden. The Covid pandemic era witnessed the highest number of suicide cases, with over 3000 cases in 2020 alone. 

The startling revelation made by Rai has sparked a debate across the country. While the entire nation is still reeling under the pandemic-induced situation, the scenario in Odisha is no different.

For instance, Tarun Debnath from Malkangiri was into wholesaling of vegetables which he transported from other states. He had employed 3-4 persons at his shop. However, following the lockdown announcement in 2020 amid the first wave of Covid, his shop remained shut. Moreover, the bank also seized the truck he purchased through a loan as he couldn't pay the EMI. 

"Loads of vegetables spoiled during the lockdown period. After losing everything now I am selling coconut by the roadside to feed my family," said Debnath.

Dushmant Patnaik from Umerkote in Nabarangpur district has a similar story to share. Patnaik had opened a printing press taking loan from different sources. The first phase lockdown was announced 17 days after he opened the press. Following the closure of his press, he couldn't pay the shop rent or repay the loan amount. The rent burden without any income was devastating. Once again he has opened another shop on loan. 

The pandemic has hit hard on people like Jaygopal Das of Badabandhani village in Bhogarai. He was working as an electrical in-charge at a Ceramic Company in Morbi of Gujarat. Scared of Covid, and the closure of the company amid the government guidelines, Das came back to his native place. 

"When the situation normalised and I returned to my workplace. However, I had lost my job by then. The company had appointed another person in my place," said Das.

The above-stated chronicles are a few picks from the broader part. As per the report presented by Rai in the Rajya Sabha, as many as 9, 140 persons killed self due to unemployment while 16091 took the extreme step over loan burden or bankruptcy. 

As per the NCRB data, 2 742 people committed suicide in 2018 for being jobless and the figure rose to 2851 in 2019 and in 2020 the figure was 3548. Similarly, due to loan burden or after being bankrupted, 4970 people killed self in 2018, the toll reached 5908 in 2019 and 5213 in 2020.

As stated by psychiatrist, people tend to develop stress and depression after losing job. Anxiety and deteriorated mental health condition forces them to take such extreme step of ending their lives. 

"People have to take it in a positive way. Being alive amid the distressing situation of pandemic is fortunate. People should think about their family. After overcoming the harsh conditions, people should strengthen themselves and tackle the challenges," said Samrat Kar, psychiatrist.

Meanwhile, economists have opined their views that fixing unemployment issues and creating job opportunities can help to resolve such issues. 

"We should focus on improving the unemployment conditions. Employment opportunities will help to address the issues. Moreover, changes in business model can also be helpful," said Rajib Sahoo, Economist.

It is pertinent to mention here that, as many as 277 people in Bhubaneswar committed suicide over different reasons during the period. As per the Commissionerate Police data, of the total deaths, 190 were male while 87 were female.

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