The Ministry of Welfare has set aside a budget of 10 billion rials to control and reduce the country’s rate of suicide, a phenomenon that, according to official statistics, has claimed more than 30,000 lives across the country over a 10-year period.
The head of Social Damages for the Ministry of Welfare, Rouzbeh Kardouni, announced the budget and the ministry’s commitment to reducing the suicide rate. The Mehr News Agency reports that according to Kardouni: “Suicide is a topic that needs to be addressed with pragmatism. Health Ministry statistics indicate that from 2002 to 2012, 30,000 people died as a result of committing suicide.”
He added that in certain areas of the country, suicide rates are higher than others, so they have to be looked at individually. He added: “However, to claim that committing suicide has grown considerably and that we are facing a crisis in this area is not really an accurate representation of the social reality we are facing.”
He went on to report that about one-third of the victims of suicide are identified as “uneducated or low-educated” and only five percent of them have university level education.
According to Kardouni, university students and retirees, with a rate of 3.1 and 3.4 percent respectively, have the lowest incidence of suicide, adding that Iran’s suicide rate in the past year is only half the global average of twelve percent.
Meanwhile, a coroner’s report on suicide rates indicates a 14-percent increase in the first nine months of last year compared to the previous year. Kazem Malakooti, an Iranian psychiatrist and head of the Society for the Prevention of Suicide, spoke at a conference on September 10 to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, indicating that the provinces of Ilam, Hamedan, Lorestan and some cities have higher suicide rates than countries in Europe.
Causes of Suicide
Familial problems and a loss or defeat in private life have been cited as the most common causes of suicide. Poverty and economic problems and a lack of social connections and networks are also common causes of depression and suicide.
Suicide in public is another topic of study. This form of suicide is realized through such acts as self-immolation, jumping from bridges or buildings, or throwing oneself under a train. From a sociological perspective, public acts of suicide are an individual’s reaction to society and a possible protest against the status quo.
Actual statistics regarding suicide in Iran are not clear due to the secrecy with which is usually approached, owing to the cultural and religious reluctance to address it. Families often cover up a relative’s suicide by claiming the death was due to a car crash or some other accident.
There is also a good possibility that authorities are manipulating statistics, because suicide rates can be a negative reflection on the country’s overall social health. Meanwhile, there are no definitive research data available regarding the actual demographics of suicide in Iran. One of the few studies available found that between 1998 and 2004, suicide was second only to driving accidents as the cause of death among university students.
A member of the Tehran University faculty of Welfare and Rehabilitation said last August that the rising suicide rate among young people was caused by erroneous population policies and society’s failure to address the needs of this group.
Official reports put the national rate of suicide at five per 100,000. Even if this report is real and reliable, setting aside a budget of one billion toumans to prevent suicide is very low and a cause for surprise.
The comments posted on the Tabnak website under the report about the budget are telling of the public reaction. Most say that economic hardship is the chief cause of the rising rates of suicide across the country, and many of them add that the budgeted amount would only be enough to hire the staff needed to launch the project.