Hindu religion and suicide in India

Lakshmi Vijayakumar

in Oxford Textbook of Suicidology and Suicide Prevention

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780198570059
Published online July 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199640461 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks

Hindu religion and suicide in India

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Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It is estimated that there are approximately 965 million Hindus in the world, of which, 909 million are in India.

As early as 3000 BC, suicides were generally condemned, but religious suicides were condoned. The practice of sati (self-immolation) and jauhar (mass suicide) was also prevalent among the Hindus. Suicide by self-immolation often occurs in Hindus, particularly among young women: the dowry system and arranged marriages are prevalent amongst Hindus and sometimes lead to suicides. Suicidal behaviour was higher among Hindus than that of the native population in the countries to which Hindus had migrated.

A case control study in India found that strong faith in Hinduism is a significant protective factor against suicide: odds ratio (OR) 6.83, confidence interval (CI) 2.88–19.69. Belief in karma and reincarnation probably make a Hindu more concerned that they should have a dignified death: in Hinduism it is ultimately the individual’s decision as to how they live and die.

Chapter.  7160 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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