Whether it be the Covid-19 pandemic or otherwise, the number of suicides witnessed a sharp increase during the past six years in Odisha.

According to the latest official data, as many as 28,249 suicide cases were reported in the state during the past six years (2016 to 2021). The data shows that the suicide cases increased with each passing year.

While 3,884 suicides were reported in different police stations of Odisha in 2016, they increased to 4,151 in 2017 and 4,447 in 2018. Their number went up to 4,636 in 2019.

In 2020 and 2021, when Odisha was in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, suicides in the state crossed the 5,000 mark. As many as 5,482 persons committed suicide in 2020 while such cases increased to 5,649 in 2021, as per the data.

Cuttack city, which is the oldest city of Odisha, reported the highest number of 3,325 suicides during the six years. While 349 such cases were reported in Cuttack urban police district in 2016, the figure increased by more than two times to 875 in 2021.

However, the rural areas of Cuttack district have not witnessed such a high surge in suicide cases. Only 283 such cases were reported in the rural areas of Cuttack district during the period.

Sambalpur, a western Odisha district, registered 2,802 suicide deaths between 2016 and 2021, whereas 1,697 persons committed suicide in Berhampur police district area.

Tribal dominated Mayurbhanj district registered the fourth highest (1,640) such cases during the period. The state's lowest suicide cases at 96 were reported from Boudh district.

A total of 1557 suicides were reported in Odisha's capital city Bhubaneswar in the six years. According to the data, Bhubaneswar registered 282 suicides in 2021. The city had reported 310 suicide cases in 2020. In 2016, 165 suicide cases were reported in the capital city.

There are many reasons for suicide like family or personal problems. This apart, financial problems caused due to Covid-19, isolation from social life and a modern lifestyle, problems in love and married life are other reasons behind such deaths, said Haresh Mishra, psychology professor at Ravenshaw University.

However, the main reason is depression. When a person goes into depression, he/she takes this extreme step, he said.

"We are not giving emphasis to mental health like physical health. To address the issue, we need to include mental health in school and college curriculums. And, a lot of awareness programmes need to be taken up," suggested the psychologist.