Introduction Although in absolute terms, Indian suicides constitute a signifi cant portion of the worldwide burden of suicide deaths, there has been only limited study of the phenomenon at the national level, and almost no systematic examination of the problem from a sociological point of view. Much of the existing literature on suicide in India can be classifi ed under four broad headings: the Indological tradition, which examines the evidence and ethical teachings found in Sanskrit texts; modern psychiatric evidence – largely drawn from hospital experience; sociological studies carried out at the state or union territory level; and anthropological studies of specifi c tribal groups.