12/04/2023, 12.41
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Alarm over suicides among minors: +40% in two years

The denunciation by the Human Rights Association, which relaunches the official numbers of the Turkish Statistical Institute. Out of 4,146 cases in 2022, at least 81 involved minors under the age of 15 and 410 boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 19. At the root are economic issues and the consequences of closures for Covid. But also worrying in some areas is the increase in female suicides. The opposition accuses the Akp.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - In Turkey there is an alarming growth in suicides among children under 18, with an increase of around 40% in the last two years, with a higher prevalence among girls in some regions.

This is what the Human Rights Association (İHD) reports, based on the official data recently released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜIK) and relating to 2022. Numbers that show a worrying phenomenon: out of a total of 4,146 suicides registered in the country, in at least 81 cases they are minors under 15 years old and in another 410 they are boys or girls between 15 and 19 years old.

In total, at least 491 minors took their own lives last year. Compared to the previous year, a significant increase, because in 2021 the official data speak of 71 suicides among children under 15 and 377 between 15 and 19 years old with an already evident increase compared to 2020, the first year of Covid-19 with closures generalized, interruption of school lessons and lockdown.

By relaunching the official numbers, the İHD Commission for Children's Rights asks for a serious and in-depth investigation to be initiated to clarify the reasons for the increase in suicides among minors. With particular attention to the regions in which "there is a higher incidence among girls", a sign of further discomfort to be highlighted.

Among the latest events relating to the last period, the İHD recalls the case of a 14-year-old girl identified with the initials I.A. from the city of Cizre, in the province of Şırnak, that she was killed about two weeks ago "in her own home". And again in Cizre, the activist group's note continues, "two sisters named Z.C and Z.C, aged 16 and 17, attempted suicide by throwing themselves into the Tigris river. The 16-year-old was saved and taken to hospital, while the 17-year-old apparently disappeared in the river and was never found again."

Childhood and developmental suicides can occur "due to the negative effects of the economic, social and cultural structures" in which minors find themselves living, in addition to the "pressures generated by war and conflict environments" the note continues.

They are disturbing elements, say İHD experts, which lead to "feelings of oppression, siege, desperation and uselessness". Furthermore, in the specific case of Turkey there are other peculiar factors including "economic poverty, forced early marriages and sexual abuse of minors" whose impact is judged to be "significant". Furthermore, "the ongoing conflict, bans and social tensions in the Kurdish provinces" contribute to a general climate of "insecurity" and "lack of hope", thus influencing the trend of suicides.

For the Human Rights Association, the situation in Cizre, in the deep south-east, near the border with Iraq and Syria, is of particular concern, where "the recent suicides of children" must be "thoroughly investigated". We also need policies to protect and benefit children, which have as their "priority the identification of the economic, social and psychological reasons that lead children to suicide", as well as encouraging the implementation of "conventions relating to the rights" of children .

The issue of suicides among minors is also becoming a political case and a source of conflict between governments and critical voices. The opposition parliamentarian Tahsin Becan, of the Republican Party (CHP), has launched a warning in recent days against the escalation of cases, driven by a general economic situation in the country which he defines as failing. Referring to the last twenty years, characterized by the stay in power of the president (and former prime minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP party, he underlines that there have been at least 1673 suicides of children under the age of 15.

Highlighting the seriousness of the problem, Becan recalled a recent incident involving a child who was thrown under the wheels of a train at Marmaray Yenikapı station in Istanbul. A "distressing" case of the "growing trend" of child suicides. In conclusion, the CHP parliamentarian speaks of a 53% growth in suicides under the rule of the AKP (Justice and Development Party). Official records show the number rose from 2,705 in 2003 to 4,146 in 2022, with a total of 63,244 people taking their own lives between 2003 and 2022.

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