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Russia sees daunting increase in adolescent suicide rates

February 10, 2012, 15:36 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

MOSCOW, February 10 (Itar-Tass) —— Growing suicide rates among teenagers in Russia is a major cause of concern for society and experts. Another such case, the fourth one in the past ten days, has been reported in the settlement of Tambovka, Russia’s Far Eatsern Amur region. A boy, a seventh grade student, hung himself last Sunday, although police reported this case only on Friday after the subject came to the forefront of public attention, following a series of teen suicides throughout the country.

Relatives, school teachers and classmates said the boy was vulnerable, susceptible and unsociable. His closest friend was his PC. It is said that the boy committed suicide because his parents prohibited him to chat on social networks. They cut access to certain websites after the boy started neglecting his schoolwork and receive low grades.

Last Tuesday, a double teen suicide was reported in the town of Lobnya outside of Moscow. Two fourteen-year-old girls, Liza Petsylya and Nastia Korolyova, jumped from the roof of a 16-storey building, hand in hand. In a suicide note they wrote they were afraid of sanctions after skipping school for two weeks.

The next day, one more teenager, Sasha Filipyev, 14, chose the same way to take his own life and jumped out of his room's window, from the 17th floor after a squabble with his father, who accused him of stealing a photo camera from his classmate.

The next day, another report about a teenage suicide came from the Siberian city of Yakutsk. On February 1, a fourteen-year-old boy, Aiskhan Sleptsov, said he felt sick and left school before the classes were over. Later in the day, he was found hung. According to his school teachers, he was in distress after his parents’ divorce.


According to experts, Russia has outstripped the entire Europe in terms of adolescent suicide rates. As many as 4,000 teen suicide attempts are registered in Russia annually, and as many as 1,500 of them result in death. As many as 19.8 suicide cases are registered per 100,000 teenagers.

Dismal leaders in terms of youth suicide are northern Buryatia, Tyva, and Yakutia.

The worst thing about a teen suicide is that the bulk of youngsters who died in suicidal attempts were brought up in normal families and enjoyed love and care of their parents, Rossiiskaya Gazeta writes.

According to experts, there are three key factors behind teen suicide, namely dejectedness accompanied by the feeling of despair; narrow-minded and inflexible approach of adults to the problems, which teenagers face; and an unhealthy family environment.

Teenagers, experts say, tend to take petty problems an adult might not take a notice of as a global tragedy. “A child’s psychic setup is not yet formed,” Novye Izvestia cites Vladimir Voitsekh, who heads the suicidology department of the Moscow Research Institute of Psychiatry. “Children are very vulnerable, hot-headed and tend to accumulate negative emotions. Teenagers see the world in black and white, with no shades.”

Statistics show that a total of 70 percent teen suicides are committed by children from seemingly happy families. Strange as it might seem but sometimes it is not the parents’ neglect but their excessive care that drives a teenager to suicide. According to Voitsekh, too much care makes a child vulnerable. A beloved child is allowed everything at home, and when this “smartest and most beautiful” child finds him or herself face to face with the outer world he or she soon get frustrated meeting resistance.

“Every teenager who attempts suicide has his or her own reasons,” Moskovsky Komsomolets cites Anatoly Severny, the president of the Association of Paediatric Psychiatrists and Psychologists. “It might be a psychiatric diagnosis in some cases, but most often the reason is conflicts at school or at home. It is not that easy to be a teenager: they are in search for themselves, for the purpose of life, and for their own place in it.”

“The problem of metal depression is coming to the forefront nowadays,” says child psychologist Anetta Orlova.


Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov described the situation over youth suicide as an emergency. According to Astakhov, the government must take urgent programs to tackle this problem.

“Each suicide case must be thoroughly investigated to find out what caused it: whether it was the situation inside the family, problems at school or conflicts with classmates. In critical situations, children cannot be left alone, face to face with their problems. The entire society must lend a helping hand, and first of all, professionals – psychologists and psychiatrists. No preventive efforts will be successful without their help,” he said.

Astakhov uses every opportunity to talk about the problem of youth suicide in order to convince state officials that the country badly needs a comprehensive program of psychological assistance to children.

Moscow, February 10.