Introduction Compared to major killers such as diseases of the lung or heart and cancer, suicides are a relatively minor cause of death in India. About 3 per cent of rural Indian male deaths and a far smaller percentage of female deaths are attributable to suicide (Registrar General 2002, Statements 8-16). In Andhra in 1991, nearly 4 per cent of female deaths and slightly over 3 per cent of male deaths were self-infl icted (Institute of Health Systems). Yet among young people in India, suicide is the leading cause of death (Registrar General 2002, Statement 7). Young women in rural India aged between 15 and 19 are almost twice as likely to take their own lives as die from tuberculosis, the next most prevalent cause of death (Ramanakumar 2004, Table 4). Suicide is also the most common cause of death of rural women aged between 15 and 44 (Registrar General 2002, Statement 24: 34). Despite the very high rates of youth suicides, popular perceptions in India, if we judge by media attention, are much more likely to identify farmers at high risk of suicide.