Suicidal Russia

The number of suicides in Russia tripled since the 1960s

If someone officially announced about 20 years ago that Russia would take one of the leading positions in the world on the number of suicides, nobody would believe that person. Suicides did not match the country filled with socialistic optimism. The number of mentally unstable Russians grows every year. Sometimes, people bid farewell to their lives because they do not want to live in this country. The statistics is quite frightening: about 60,000 Russian people committed suicide last year. This number equals the population of a small town.

This situation can be observed not only in Russia, but on the entire post-Soviet territory. Sixty thousand suicides exceed the critical level determined by the World Health Organization. The research conducted by the Russian Center for Social and Judicial Psychiatry shows, there is a certain suicidal differentiation, based on sexual, ethnic and social indications. For example, men commit suicides six times as much as women do. Males of 45-54 years of age commit suicides more frequently than males of another age group. Suicides mainly take place because of alcoholism and depression.

Teenagers of 15-19 years old form another large group of people on the number of suicides - 212 people on 100,000. Russia's Sverdlovsk region is the leading territory in this respect. Losing 2,500 teenagers every year because of suicides, Russia ranks first on the sad list. The second place is taken by the USA: 1,800 teenagers kill themselves every year. Russia ranks third in the world on the number of teenage suicides per capita, following Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan.

The research conducted by the mentioned center showed, mental disorders were not the main reason for committing suicides among Russian people. Social factors are not predominant either. In addition, experts point out the growing trend of suicides committed by the people of a higher social status. More than 50 percent of self-murderers make their decision in a state of temporary insanity, especially if it goes about terminally ill people, when no one and nothing can help them.

The one-way love issue takes a special place among suicidal motives. This reason makes 42.2 percent of girls and 36.6 percent of young men under 16 years old kill themselves. The situation in the Russian army stands out as well: up to 70 percent of all suicides among military men are committed during the first year of the service. In prisons, 60 percent of all suicides are committed during the first three months after the imprisonment and during the last months before the release. Natural factors play an important role too: suicides become more frequent in spring and during full moon phases. Russian self-murders are not original when it comes to the ways of committing suicides. Most often, people hang themselves, they also use (in decreasing order) poison, knives, fire arms, they jump off high buildings, etc, or drown.

The issue of suicides in Russia is very serious, it even makes foreign specialists evince interest in it. Murray Feshbach, well-known American specialist on Russia, has recently published a book titled "Russia's Health and Demographic Crisis: Policy Implications and Consequences." The professor believes, 60,000 suicides a year are definitely a reason for a very serious concern. However, it is not known, if the number includes the people, who commit suicide when driving, if the number includes teenagers, who kill themselves over bad family treatment, and so on. According to the information, which has been recently published by the Russian Healthcare Ministry, children between five and nine years old commit suicides too. Feshbach thinks it is a horrible phenomenon, which testifies to serious problems in the Russian society.

According to the report from the WHO, Russia takes the second position in the world on the number of suicides after Lithuania. Russia is followed by Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Ukraine. The situation in Lithuania is probably explained with  drug addiction, alcohol beverages, the growth of the HIV-infection statistics. The same can be said about Estonia: the number of HIV-positive people there is larger in comparison with Russia and Ukraine. That is why, people decide to kill themselves, because they will decease anyway. A low living standard, stresses, illnesses, alcoholism, drug addiction are the reasons of high statistics of suicides in other countries of the CIS.

The average age of poor people in Russia is 47 years. A lot of them are highly qualified specialists having a higher education. A lot of people simply gave up fighting everyday problems, which can also be considered a motive to commit suicide. The number of suicides has tripled since the 1960s in Russia: 22,000 in 1960-1965 against 60,000 last year. The critical number, according to the WHO, is 20 suicides per 100,000 people. The figure is a lot larger in Russia. The WHO considers 50 incidents of tuberculosis per 100,000 people as an epidemic. In Russia, the official number of TB-sick people is 87 per 100,000.

Both the American professor and Russian doctors do not know, what should be done to make people reject suicidal ideas. On the other hand, it is not really hard to find an answer: state priorities should be changed.

Author`s name Olga Savka