07/06/2006, 00.00
IRAN
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Suicide, especially of the young, on the rise in Iran

Every day 13 people kill themselves. Their average age is 29 with a three-to-one male-to-female ratio. The problem has spread among university students in recent years.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – The rate of suicide is rising in Iran. It now stands at 13 a day. The average age of the victims is 29 years and, for every successful suicide, there are between 8 to 25 failed attempts. Citing Health Ministry figures, Rooz online reports that the number of women attempting suicide is three times that of men, but the latter are exactly three times more successful.

The phenomenon is especially widespread in poor provinces like Ilam, Bushehr, Kahkilooieh e Boyeer-Ahmad, Khuzestan, Fars and Kerman, and among the young. According to the National Youth Organization (Sazemane Melli Javanan), half of those under 29 are under some kind of mental strain, whilst 40.2 per cent of all youth have suffered some mental problem.

According to Dr Moinfar, a social issues analyst, young people who commit suicide tend to have great potential but are failed by their entourage and so lose hope and attempt suicide.

In recent years, suicide has become commonplace even among students, especially those who live in dorms far from home.

In a 2003 study, Dr Moinfar said that university managers lack the necessary long-term experience to understand the young and their problems. "Whenever a student threatens to commit suicide," he noted, "they think he is simply making excuses for something." The net result is that for "every 100 suicide threats, between 2 and 4 actually do it."

Suicide among women is also increasing. According to an aide to the governor of Ilam province—the province with the highest suicide rate—there are 400 suicides per year, 220 of them women, in a population of 580,000. Women tend to use fire to kill themselves.

According to sociologist Dr Shahla Amadeh, "the traditional family structure among Iranians, especially among the families in nomadic and ethnic groups in provinces such as Ilam, and Kahkilooieh and Boyeer-Ahmad which are built on the culture of male domination are the causes of this type of suicides . . . . In this culture, young women are sometimes forced into marriage, which is recognized as one reason for the suicides . . . . Another reason for women's suicides are unfavorable social conditions . . . and events such as rape or their mistreatment because of their feelings and passions."

For example, a movie shot two years ago and showing young women partying in Tabriz was screened in their home town. Two of them were so concerned about dishonouring their families and scared of the father's possible reaction that they took their lives.

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