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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 38  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 118-123

Effect of land ownership on farmers' mental health, suicidal ideation, and resilience

Department of Psychology, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Haryana, India

Date of Submission26-May-2020
Date of Decision04-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance23-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication11-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Ms. Tamanna Gupta
Department of Psychology, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_129_20

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Introduction: The impact of land ownership on mental health, suicidal ideation, and resilience of farmers is very big nowadays. The impact is raised when the farmer has no land and compels to farming on leasehold land. Hence, the present study was aimed to find the relationship between three groups of farmers on the dimensions of mental health, suicidal ideation, and resilience. Methods: This study is based on the primary data that have been collected from the Western Zone of Haryana state. The sample comprising 375 farmers with a minimum education of 10th was selected. They were further divided into three different groups such as landless farmers (farming on leasehold lands), farmers with 1–9-acre land, and farmers with > 9-acre land. Goldberg and Hillier's General Health Questionnaire-28, Wagnild and Young's Resilience Scale, and Reynolds' Adult Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire were used for data collection. Moreover, for analysis, product-moment correlation and one-way ANOVA were used. Results: Using intercorrelation and ANOVA, it was found that there is a significant difference between the three groups of farmers on different dimensions of mental health (P < 0.01), suicidal ideation (P < 0.01), and resilience (P < 0.01). Mean and statistical differences were found between the three groups of farmers. Farmers, who are farming on leasehold land, show more somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, severe depression, and suicidal ideation. On the other hand, farmers who have above 9-acre land scored highest on the scale of resilience and social dysfunction. Hence, it is recommended that the farmers who are farming on leasehold land may have to consider the possibility of recruiting qualified counselors.

Keywords: Effects of land ownership, mental health, resilience, suicidal ideation

How to cite this article:
Mehra A, Gupta T, Behmani RK. Effect of land ownership on farmers' mental health, suicidal ideation, and resilience. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2022;38:118-23

How to cite this URL:
Mehra A, Gupta T, Behmani RK. Effect of land ownership on farmers' mental health, suicidal ideation, and resilience. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 2];38:118-23. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2022/38/2/118/347296

  Introduction Top

The Indian economy is based on the agriculture field. But nowadays, Indian peasants are in trouble as their earning source is only farming. Sometimes, crops are destroyed due to natural disasters and farmers are not capable to cope with these adverse demanding situations. They indulge a big economic problem, as sometimes they pay a large amount of money for farming on leasehold land. That is why indebtedness is also a big issue nowadays. Due to these adverse circumstances, the farmer's psychological and physical health affects negatively. Moreover, their mental health, quality of life, well-being, resilience, and coping ability decrease or deviate from normality to abnormality.[1] It is said that mental health is depending on mental peace and satisfaction. Moreover, satisfaction depends on many factors such as financial security. Farmers who have more land feel more security, showing good mental health, less or no suicidal ideation, and high level of resilience than landless farmers. Landless farmers are those who have no land and farming on leasehold land.

Mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community.”[2] The mental health problem occurs not just by work, but also it is brought to one's experience at work. Workplaces are also not the same every time; it can change. Hence, there is a need to understand the reason behind mental health. It is widely acknowledged that agriculture can be a highly stressful occupation. There are many reasons for suicidal ideation among farmers. One of them is wealth. Farmers who have more land tend to best psychological well-being than those who have less[3],[4] found that wealth is directly correlated with mental health and psychological well-being. Suicidal ideation is led by poor mental health. Almost every suicide is related to depression and psychological problems.

According to the World Health Organization,[5] “Suicidal thoughts are also known as suicidal ideation. It's a thought about how to kill oneself, which can range from a detailed plan to a fleeting consideration and does not include the final act of killing oneself.” Suicidal ideation is chiefly related to depression and mood disorders. However, psychological disorders also play an important role in it. Various events in life such as family events and others can provoke suicidal ideation. The significant reason for farmers' suicides is indebtedness. In this manner, the agriculturists did not reimburse the credits of the banks. Just about 75% of ranchers had taken the advances from the noninstitutional organizations, and then, they could not reimburse it. It leads to frustration and decides suicide.[6] They found high suicidal ideation among marginal and small-scale farmers. They reveal that 61.7% of small-scale farmers and 16.7% of large-scale farmers have suicidal ideation. Many researchers like Shiva and Jalees and Mishra[7],[8] reveal that the indebtedness of farmers has been quoted as one of the core reasons for committing suicide. It means that socioeconomic factors are strongly associated with farmers' suicide.[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14] They all said that increased indebtedness plays a major role in suicidal ideation. But nowadays, the state and the federal government of many countries provide rural financial counseling services. There are many government policies and services that offer free and confidential financial help, and many of them provide it at a very low rate of interest. Their particular aim is to start up primary procedures and to set up a rural business. Ultimately, this service aims to reduce stressors at source, to provide resilience, to support people to become self-reliant with better financial management skills, and to prevent suicidal ideation among farmers.

Resilience is the ability of a person and community, which rise through stressful and difficult situations and bring about positive changes in their behavior. A person comes to know about his/her hidden talents through experiencing negative situations and then make positive changes in their own life. “Resilience is defined as an individual's ability to successfully adapt to life tasks in the face of social disadvantage or highly adverse conditions. Farm resilience is the ability to concatenate the three capabilities, thereby enabling the farm to address sudden shocks, unacceptable “surprises” as well as slow-onset changes.”[15] Resilience can broadly be defined as an ability to easily recover from misfortune or bouncing back from difficult situations or experiences. It is the process of adapting well. It does not mean the complete elimination of stress, as a certain amount of stress is necessary to help us achieve goals in our life. “In the area of social sciences, resilience is generally defined as the ability to recover from negative life experiences and become stronger while overcoming them.”[16] Studies reveal that those who feel security, emotional as well as financial, can cope up easily.[6] They found that resilience is high among large-scale farmers than to marginal and small-scale farmers. Financial counseling services may provide help to small-scale farmers to cope with stress. All financial counseling services are based on the protective factor model of resilience. This protective factor model defines the interaction between protection and risk factors.

The current study aims to find the role of land ownership on the perception of suicidal ideation, mental health, and resilience among male farmers. This study will help academicians, researchers, and psychologists to understand that there is a positive association between different groups of farmers (landless farmers, farmers with 1–9-acre land, and farmers with more than 9-acre land) and their state of mental health, suicidal ideation, and resilience. It will also help to predict and prevent a farmer's death due to suicide. This study reveals more relevant results, whereas much previous research relied on a small sample, but we gathered data on a large sample (n = 375).

Based on the past review, the authors hypothesized that landless farmers would be severe on the dimensions of mental health and suicidal ideation, and farmers who have above 9-acre land would be scored high on the scale of resilience.

  Methods Top


The sample of this research is of 375 male farmers with an age range of 25–40 years. A sample of 375 male farmers was further categorized into three groups such as 125 landless farmers (but they are farming on leasehold land), 125 farmers who have 1–9-acre land, and 125 farmers who have above 9-acre land. Their education was at least 10th standard. In this study, only male farmers have been included because in India, mainly male farmers are busier in agricultural work. Women help in agricultural work mainly after doing household chores, while male farmers are busy in agricultural work from morning to late night.

Inclusion criteria

Farmers from four districts (Hisar, Bhiwani, Fatehabad, and Sirsa) of Haryana were included in this study. Farmers who have a minimum qualification of 10th standard were also included in this research.

Exclusion criteria

Farmers having a history of mental illness were excluded from this study, and those who do another job with farming were also excluded from this research.


  1. General Health Questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28)[17]
  2. Adult Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire (ASIQ)[18]
  3. Resilience scale.[19]

General Health Questionnaire-28

The GHQ construct by Goldberg and Hiller (1979) comprises 28 questions, which evaluates psychological symptoms on four subscales: somatic symptoms (items 1–7), anxiety/insomnia (items 8–14), social dysfunction (items 15–21), and severe depression (22–28)

Each item was evaluated on a four-point scale. There are some positive and negative items. Negative items need to reversely score to obtain the final scores. Test–retest reliability of this scale is high (0.78–0.9), and inter- and intra-rater reliability is also excellent (Cronbach's 0.09–0.95).

Adult Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire

The ASIQ developed by Reynolds (1991) is a self-reported inventory. It has been contained a total of 25 questions that measured a past month suicidal ideation for adults. It is a revised form of the 30-item Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire. The reliability of coefficient alpha is 0.97, and the test–retest is 0.86.

Resilience scale

The resilience scale was developed by Wagnild and Young, 1993. This scale contains 25 items in a Likert format. The reliability of this scale is 0.91. It is a self-reported scale. Their responses were ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7). Scoring and interpretation were in the following pattern: very low resilience (25–100), low resilience (101–115), moderately low resilience (116–130), moderately high resilience (131–145), high resilience (145–160), and very high resilience (161–175).

Ethical consideration

Ethical Clearance was obtained from the local Ethics Committee to conduct the study. Informed consent was acquired from farmers before starting the evaluation and assured them of confidentiality. Counseling was done by the researcher for those who have shown suicidal ideation and severe depression. And then, they informed their family members about their condition so that they can be able to cooperate.


This study was conducted in that field where farmers were farming, so it took advantage of a natural environment. We requested participants to carefully read instructions before giving their responses. After the collection of data, the analysis was done with the help of using product-moment correlation and ANOVA on IBM SPSS-20.

  Results Top


The correlation among land ownership, somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction, severe depression, suicidal ideation, and resilience was founded through using the Pearson product-moment method [Table 1].
Table 1: Correlations and descriptive statistics for study variables (n=375)

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The results showed that the measures of mental health, namely somatic symptoms (r = −0.374, P < 0.01), anxiety and insomnia (r = −0.384, P < 0.01), and severe depression (r = −0.423, P < 0.01), are significantly negatively correlated with land ownership. The measure of suicidal ideation (r = −0.481, P < 0.01) is also negatively correlated with land ownership. Social dysfunction (r = 0.200, P < 0.01) and resilience (r = 0.614, P < 0.01) are significantly correlated with land ownership.

The measures of anxiety and insomnia (r = 0.789, P < 0.01), severe depression (r = 0.675, P < 0.01), and suicidal ideation (r = 0.560, P < 0.01) are significantly positively correlated with somatic symptoms. On the other hand, social dysfunction (r = −0.303, P < 0.01) and resilience (r = −0.393, P < 0.01) are significantly negatively correlated with somatic symptoms. The measures of severe depression (r = 0.684, P < 0.01) and suicidal ideation (r = 0.543, P < 0.01) are significantly positively correlated with anxiety and insomnia. Social dysfunction (r = −0.369, P < 0.01) and resilience (r = −0.387, P < 0.01) are significantly negatively correlated with anxiety and insomnia.

The results showed that the measures of severe depression (r = −0.174, P < 0.01), suicidal ideation (r = −0.262, P < 0.01), and resilience (r = −0.138, P < 0.01) are negatively correlated with social dysfunction. The measure of suicidal ideation is positively correlated with severe depression (r = 0.519, P < 0.01) and negatively with resilience (r = −0.381, P < 0.01). As depression increases, suicidal thoughts also increase. Moreover, farmers who can easily cope up with stress show no or less suicidal ideation. The measure of resilience also shows negative correlation with suicidal ideation (r = −0.624, P < 0.01).

Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance

The mean and standard deviation and results of ANOVA of three groups of land ownership on somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction, severe depression, suicidal ideation, and resilience are shown in [Table 2]. The bar chart is provided for describing the mean differences of three groups on different variables [Graph 1]. Tukey's post hoc analysis is used for describing the group which has differed from others [Table 3].
Table 2: Mean, standard deviation, and results of ANOVA of land ownership (landless/farming on leasehold lands, 1- 9-acre land, above 9-acre land) on the four dimensions of mental health (somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, social dysfunction, and severe depression), suicidal ideation, and resilience

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Table 3: Post hoc test Tukey's honestly significant difference

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  Discussion Top

The present study shows as well as land ownership increase (ownership on multiple acre land increase) farmers show less somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, severe depression, and suicidal ideation and show more social dysfunction and resilience. It indicates that wealth is significantly correlated with psychological well-being[20],[21] and physical health. Moreover, psychological well-being is significantly correlated with physical health. This research reveals that farmers show more somatic symptoms when they feel depressed and suicidal thoughts.[22] When social dysfunction and resilience decreases, somatic symptoms increase. Farmers with severe depression and suicidal thoughts show more anxiety and insomnia than others. It indicates that landless farmers show more somatic symptoms, anxiety, and insomnia than landlord farmers. They tend to ill-health and worry about their economic conditions. However, on the other side, the farmer who has more land faces more problems in social functioning as they mostly spend their time in farming activities which leads to detachment from society.[23]

This research also indicates that landless farmers are more prone to suicidal ideation than landlord farmers. As their land lordship increases, suicidal ideation decreases. Scores of the mean are very surprising. There is a high difference between landless farmers and landlords with above 9-acre land. It indicated that those who have more land feel financial security as well as mental peace. Suicidal ideation is almost disappearing when farmers have a large number of lands. Indebtedness is a fundamental reason behind suicide.[24] Approximately 60% of peasants who committed suicide had land area <1 acre.[25] In Maharashtra also, the majority of the peasants who have committed suicide were those with only small lands.[26]

Resilience is bouncing back from difficult experiences. The present investigation shows that farmers who are resilient less somatic symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, social dysfunction, severe depression, and suicidal ideation. It indicates that farmers, who have more land, can easily bouncing back from difficult experiences than farmers who have no or less quantity of land.[6] They can easily cope up with their stress as they feel financial security.

In this study, mental health, suicidal ideation, and resilience are self-reported measured by farmers, which have not been confirmed by clinical assessment by the physicians. This could have been the reason for high or low scores in this study that can affect the results. Moreover, second, indebtedness cannot a single cause for a farmer's suicidal ideation. There could be some other causes present.

The present investigation reveals that three groups of farmers have shown significant differences in the dimensions of mental health, suicidal ideation, and resilience, which means that all the hypotheses are accepted here. Farmers who have farming on lease-hold land scored highest on the scale of somatic symptoms, anxiety and insomnia, severe depression, and suicidal ideation. Farmers who have farming on above 9-acre land scored highest on the scale of social dysfunctioning and resilience. From the above discussion, it can be inferred that different groups of farmers were significantly associated with dimensions of mental health, suicidal ideation, and resilience.

Practical implications

This study highlighted the need for qualified counselors for farmers, especially for landless farmers, to enhance their mental wellness. These findings can be beneficial for the government also to making social policies in favor of farmers. This study gives an insight into leading psychologists and counselors to organize mental wellness program for farmers.


There are some limitations in this study. It was not possible to study all the psychological variables that may influence suicidal thoughts in farmers in a single study. Hence, there are some limitations here, such as the sample included only male farmers in this study. It would be better if their counterparts can be studied together to gain more insights into the problems. This study was based on some parts of Haryana, which can be extended to other parts of the state as well as the country. Moreover, the population included in this study is subjected to a specific age group (i.e., 25–40-year-old farmers), and it may include further age groups. In this study, farmers, whose education was at least up to 10th standard were included, it would be better if illiterate farmers could be the part of this study. Furthermore, the ASIQ questionnaire for measuring suicidal ideation was actually measured a past month suicidal ideation. This questionnaire is not meant to predict future suicidal ideation/behavior. Hence, this study cannot help to assume the future suicidal ideation of farmers.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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