NEW DELHI: The National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB), for the first time in 2014, collected data on suicide based on caste groups and religion.

The data revealed some shocking facts. It showed that Christians have the highest suicide rate, as high as 17.4; the national average being 10.6. This is an appalling figure for a community which occupies only a 2.3% share in the population, but a 3.7% share in suicides. (In this context, rate refers to the number of suicides per population of one lakh)

The Union Home Ministry was suppose to release the data in 2015, but did not until The Indian Express filed an RTI for the information.

These figures raised the important questions:what problems are Christians facing that make them resort to committing suicides? Are these problems so grave, that suicides seem to be the only way out?

John Dayal, a well known activist was of the view that “the government and the Church leadership ought be concerned about this”. He told The Citizen that the figures could be incomplete as “a very large chunk of Christians live in villages and are Dalits” who might not have been factored into the report as “the real socio-economic data of the community is not available.”

Dayal attributed, “urban stress and competitiveness” as possible reasons for high suicide rates among the community.

He further added, “unemployment among Christians has doubled” in the last decade; and a large number of “Christian tribal girls were trafficked”. He was of the view that unemployment was a major factor contributing to the stress that then claimed lives. He said that the data even now represented only the tip of the iceberg.

Senior journalist Pamela Philipose told The Citizen that, historically the Christians, under the British rule, were a “pampered section” of society. Today, she said, “the people of the community have high aspirations in terms of their goals and desires. The situation becomes problematic when they are unable to achieve what think they can.”

Philipose said that because the Christians constituted a small minority in India, they tend to fall off the radar. A solution to this, she added, was greater solidarity leading to a more organised and close knit community.

The report carried by The Indian Express on the basis of the RTI seems to have disappeared with little to no response from the community leaders, and the government. The need of the hour is to focus on the causes of this tragedy reflected in these numbers.