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The Kerala conundrum: exploring the relationship between social change and high suicide rates in the Indian state of Kerala
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 00:02 authored by Vikas Arya
The state of Kerala has a unique history of high social development, rapid social change and high suicide rates. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the effects of rapid social change on suicide rates of Kerala within a broader Indian context—that is, to show how the suicide problem of Kerala reflects the overall suicide problem in India. The association between rapid social change and suicide rates is explored by sensitising Durkheim’s suicide theory in the Indian context. The study utilises a mixed method approach consisting of bivariate analyses and linear regression modelling (quantitative analysis) and in-depth interviews (qualitative analysis). The results highlight that high suicide rates of Kerala and India more generally, are a result of a state of conflict or anomie developed through an ongoing clash between the traditional and the modern ways of living. The states with high Hindu populations are found to be susceptible to suicide as historical sanctions towards suicide in Hindu culture continue to have their impact on modern Hindu suicides. Also, more affluent states and states with higher literacy rates tend to have higher suicide rates. For example, south Indian states have higher suicide rates while north Indian states have lower suicide rates. Furthermore, high unemployment rates seem to have a weak impact on suicide rates across India. All these results indicate that the more ‘modernised’ parts of India suffer from higher suicide rates.