Putin’s Glorious, Resurgent, Wealthy Russia is World #3 . . . in Suicides Per Capita

Russian Suicide Rate Per 100,000 people

American Suicide Rate Per 100,000 people

When was the last time you heard “President” Vladimir Putin give a speech about Russia’s suicide problem? Does he even know about it? The Moscow Times reports:

Russian Internet forums and communities abound with people looking for easy ways to commit suicide and inviting others to join them. Popular blog site LiveJournal.com alone has 124 Russian-language communities interested in suicide, with names like Self-Killers Club, Suicide World, and Suicide Truth. The Russian Internet is teeming with chat rooms and forums to discuss the issue, such as Last-limit.narod.ru, Pagesofpain.narod.ru and Danaja666.narod.ru. Many communities and forums say their goal is suicide prevention, but visits over several days found people eagerly exchanging information on how to commit suicide and find a suicide partner. “Somebody help me, advise me how to accomplish a certain suicide with medicine,” says a comment posted in the LiveJournal community Suicid_mir. One of the answers to the request reads: “I don’t think drugs [are best], most likely [jumping] from a high floor [will do]. I am replying to you because I am looking for someone to accompany me. I am scared to do it alone, but together would be easier, I believe.”

The dark deliberations come as no surprise to demographers, who say Russian speakers are more likely to commit suicide than any other group on Earth. Russia has the third-highest suicide rate in the world, with 32* people in every 100,000 killing themselves per year, according to the State Statistics Service figures from 2005, the most recent year available. The leader is Lithuania, followed by Belarus. Since 1970, the number of people committing suicide in Russia has surpassed the number dying from accidental alcohol poisoning or murders. Twenty-nine people in 100,000 now die from alcohol poisoning every year, and 25 per 100,000 are murdered, according to State Statistics Service.

The suicide rate remains high in large part due to a lack of close-knit networks of families and friends throughout much of the country and a near-complete absence of crisis centers offering free counseling. Private counseling is too expensive for many, costing an average of 1,000 rubles per hour. “There are few of these centers in big cities, while in small towns people have nowhere to go if they are depressed or are in low spirits,” said Gontmakher of the Social Policy Center. He said he advocated the creation of a hotline for psychological assistance modeled after the “02” phone number for police and “03” for an ambulance. Moscow has 10 crisis hotlines offering free counseling, and St. Petersburg has four, according to Yellowpages.ru. But most of the hotlines keep strict hours and are aimed as specific groups, such as HIV-positive people, victims of domestic violence, drug users and gays — not just anyone contemplating suicide.

Svetlana Marinich, a St. Petersburg therapist who has manned a crisis hotline for the city’s Petrodvorets district for two years, said she gets a suicide call once every few months. “Mostly they are teenagers and young people who call with such thoughts after an unfortunate romance,” she said. Many other calls come from lonely pensioners, Marinich said. Marinich noted that women are more likely to attempt suicide, but men are more likely to succeed.

*LR: This figure — 32/100,000 — while still breathtakingly high, is based on Kremlin-crunched data and is lower than what the international ratings agency WHO records for Russia (the figure given in the graphic at the top of the post). Both figures are taken from the Moscow Times source material which you can see by clicking through to the link.

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