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Psychiatry Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 486081, 8 pages
Research Article

Sociocultural Context of Suicidal Behaviour in the Sundarban Region of India

1Institute of Psychiatry, 7 D. L. Khan Road, Kolkata 700025, India
2Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Stuart Road Resource Centre, Corby, Northants NN17 1RJ, UK
3Department of Pharmacology, IPGME & R, 244 A.J.C. Bose Road, Kolkata 700020, India
4Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute, Socinstrasse 57, 4051 Basel, Switzerland

Received 18 December 2012; Revised 17 March 2013; Accepted 22 April 2013

Academic Editor: Tanya Meade

Copyright © 2013 A. N. Chowdhury et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The role of mental illness in nonfatal deliberate self-harm (DSH) is controversial, especially in Asian countries. This prospective study examined the role of psychiatric disorders, underlying social and situational problems, and triggers of DSH in a sample of 89 patients hospitalised in primary care hospitals of the Sundarban Delta, India. Data were collected by using a specially designed DSH register, Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC), and clinical interview. Psychiatric diagnosis was made following the DSM-IV guidelines. The majority of subjects were young females (74.2%) and married (65.2%). Most of them (69.7%) were uncertain about their “intention to die,” and pesticide poisoning was the commonest method (95.5%). Significant male-female differences were found with respect to education level, occupation, and venue of the DSH attempt. Typical stressors were conflict with spouse, guardians, or in-laws, extramarital affairs, chronic physical illness, and failed love affairs. The major depressive disorder (14.6%) was the commonest psychiatric diagnosis followed by adjustment disorder (6.7%); however 60.7% of the cases had no psychiatric illness. Stressful life situations coupled with easy access to lethal pesticides stood as the risk factor. The sociocultural dynamics behind suicidal behaviour and community-specific social stressors merit detailed assessment and timely psychosocial intervention. These findings will be helpful to design community-based mental health clinical services and community action in the region.