Farmer Suicides in India: A visualization
There are reports and news items dating back from the mid-1990s on farmer suicides. Here’s one news report on a study conducted by a Prof. K. Nagaraj. You could do a search to see that there are more than 150,000 items on the topic. There are films like Jhing Chik Jhing based on the topic. The government also talks about “relief measures” for the same.
So I decided to find out for myself, what the numbers actually were. I selected 2001 as a good year to start my data collation effort (though not much effort was involved). The National Crime Records Bureau has pretty comprehensive data (data that I will, at this point, trust).
Compiling the data was pretty easy, but when it came to the visualization, I tried several types of charts, including the basic column graphs and pie-charts. None were good enough. What was required, was a treemap.
So I went to Many Eyes, a site by IBM that helps in visualizing data. It allows you to upload the data and visualize it in multiple ways.
Click on the image to view a larger version.
The data now looks like this. You can visit the page on Many Eyes here to see an interactive viz.
Some other observations
There have been a total of 120,395 suicides in the 8 year period from 2001-2008, which is nearly 15% of all suicides in this period.
Maharashtra consistently ranks at the top of the suicides list averaging 23% of all farmer suicides over the 8 year period.
22 states and union territories each contribute less than 1% on an average and a total of 4%.
5 states: Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Madhya Pradesh make up for nearly two-thirds of the suicides (64.33%).
You can also derive your own observations from the data. Some of data is available on Many Eyes as a dataset.
If you want the sorted data by year, as a spreadsheet, please leave a message in the comments section.
I tried an alternate view using suicide data as a percentage of total suicides in a state. The picture changes completely:
You can view the complete graphic here.
There is less of an imbalance when it comes to distribution now.
Another interesting fact: When it comes to suicides, the ratio of farmer suicides to the total farmer population is less than the ratio of total suicides to total population.
There is some work that needs to be done on the validation of the agricultural population.
The data sources include: National Crime Records Bureau, Register General of India, Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Dept. of Agriculture.