Latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that in 2020, the business community recorded more suicides than farmers. As many as 11,716 businessmen died by suicide in 2020 compared to 10,677 farmers in the same year.
Of these over 11,000 deaths, the NCRB report highlighted that 4,356 were that of tradesmen and 4,226 were of vendors – with the rest being accounted for in the category of other businesses. The National Crime Records Bureau categorizes the business community into the three categories – tradesmen, vendors and other businesses, while recording suicides.
The report compares the data to 2019, saying that suicides among the business community in 2020 increased by 29%. Suicides among tradespeople increased from 2,906 in 2019 to 4,356 in 2020, nearly double – a 49.9% jump. Overall, the suicide figure in India has increased by 10% to 1,53,052, which the NCRB has described as the highest ever.
Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, told The Indian Express that in the COVID year, small businesses has been impacted very badly. “Till now it was believed that more farmers commit suicide due to crop failure and mounting loans. But this shows that businessmen have been under no less stress and the pandemic has made it worse,” he said.
During the pandemic, about four in 10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. A KFF Health Tracking Poll from July 2020 found that many adults are reporting specific negative impacts on their mental health and well-being, such as difficulty sleeping or eating, increases in alcohol consumption or substance abuse, and worsening chronic conditions. This has been driven by worry and stress over the coronavirus. Entrepreneurs are likely to experience stress as venture initiators, grappling with uncertainty and being personally responsible and liable for any decision made.
Research from prior economic downturns shows that, business loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress and low self-esteem and may lead to higher rates of suicide. Dan Jones, Ph.D, associate professor of management in the College of Business, believes a strong support network is key to avoiding mental health issues. “Often, when facing adversity, individuals isolate themselves and feel that they must journey inward. While finding inner strength is great, support from others is just as important.”
Dr Jones said nothing is worth sacrificing physical or mental health.