We calculated mortality rates and years of life lost because of unintentional injuries and suicides using community based information obtained prospectively over a 7-year period, from 1998 to 2004, among a rural and peri-urban population of 108,000 in South India. Per 100,000 population the total mortality rate for unintentional injuries and suicides combined was 137.1, with 54.9 for unintentional injuries and 82.2 for suicides respectively. Hanging and self-poisoning with pesticides were the preferred means of suicide. Unintentional injuries and suicides resulted in 26.9% of total life years lost over the study period while 18.9% of all deaths in the population were attributable to unintentional injuries and suicides in the same period. The high burden is particularly notable in the 15-29 age group, where up to 70% of years of life lost are due to injury. The burden of injuries reported in this study is significantly higher than the figures reflected in available reports for India and is likely due to the under reporting in routine mortality statistics, particularly of suicides.