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Kazakhs More Prone to Suicide

Kazakhstan has the highest suicide mortality rate in Central Asia

Thursday 21 June 2018, by Catherine BISSON-SERIAN

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Kazakhstan has the highest suicide mortality rate in Central Asia,

WHO fact sheet (PDF)
Kazakhstan: Suicide rates
(Click to download)

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicide accounts for about a million deaths annually, with the five countries having the highest rates being Guyana, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Swaziland and Russia, ranging from 32.5 to 25.3 per 100,000 population. By comparison, the rates for Central Asian countries are as follow:

  • Kazakhstan: 27.5
  • Turkmenistan: 10.0
  • Uzbekistan: 9.3
  • Kyrgyzstan: 8.2
  • Afghanistan: 5.5
  • Tajikistan: 4.0

WHO statistics reveal, even more alarmingly, that suicide is one of the top causes of death worldwide among youth aged 15-29 years (following closely behind road injury and HIV related deaths).

Challenges represented by social stigma, the taboo to openly discuss suicide, and low availability of data are still to date obstacles leading to poor data quality for both suicide and suicide attempts. Nevertheless, the statistics are commonly used to directly influence decisions about public policy and public health strategies.

Kazakhstan has highest number of recorded suicides among girls aged 15 to 19, and for boys, it is the second highest after Russia. A UNICEF report of 2009 shows, between 1999 and 2008 the number of suicides among young people of the country increased by 23%.

According to Raisa Sher, head of the country’s education ministry’s child protection committee, there are several factors behind such high rates of suicide among people of a young age, such as:

  • School bullying
  • Absence or loss of values
  • Falling standards of social behaviour
  • Alienation

In the World, Approximately 0.5-1.4% of people die by suicide, roughly 12 per 100,000 individuals per year. Three quarters of suicides globally occur in the developing world. Rates of completed suicides are generally higher in men than in women, ranging from 1.5 times as much in the developing world to 3.5 times in the developed world. Europe had the highest rates of suicide by region in 2015. There are an estimated 10 to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year. Non-fatal suicide attempts may lead to injury and long-term disabilities.

Suicide games

Last year, a rash of suicide games on social media has caused panic among parents and raised alarm throughout Kazakhstan.. The wave began in 2015 in Russia, where local media reported about secret communities for teens that invited them to participate in a dangerous game. In each case, the players must complete 50 tasks, beginning with cutting a vein and using a blade to draw an image of a blue whale on their hand. Suicide is the last mandatory task and if not completed, the game creators threaten to “deal” with the player’s family.

Consequently, Kazakh authorities have blocked access to content posted by so-called death groups on social networks such as VKontakte. Experts are also calling on Kazakh citizens to check their children’s phones to protect them from games such as Siniy kit (“a blue whale”), Tikhiy dom (“a quiet house”), More kitov (“a sea/a bunch of whales”) and Razbudi menya v 4:20 (“wake me up 4.20 AM”). About 300 “a sea of whales” communities and 450 “quiet house” groups have been discovered on VKontakte.

Death by suicide is the ultimate Stage 4 event in the progression of many mental health conditions, whether or not they have ever been recognised and labelled as such. A 2014 overview pointed at the economic crisis’ years (2007-2008) as a period from which suicide rates surged globally.

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