11/03/2006, 00.00
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Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Iran

Hospital data indicate that women top the list in suicide. Suicide among the young is setting off additional alarm bells.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – Suicide, especially among women, is the second leading cause of death in Iran. Everyday, Tehran's Loqman Hospital admits scores of would-be suicides. However, officials in this and other hospitals tend to downplay the incidence of suicides in Iran, partly due to government pressure, partly due to the experts' view that such news would cause even a further spike in suicide rates. In fact the head of Iran's Forensic Medicine Organisation is quoted by the Sedaye Edalat daily as saying that "suicide data should not be publicised." Still some successful suicide attempts are reported every day in the national press.

For Dr Hasan Zadeh, who has researched women's suicide in Iran, "even though the world-wide suicide ratio is one woman for every three men, in Iran suicide rates among women are higher than in men."

And the means of suicide is particularly gruesome. Suicide by burning now represents half of all suicide attempts. For instance, researchers at the Mazandaran Medical School have found that that out of 318 burning cases analysed in the past two years 83 per cent of the victims were female.

And the problem seems to affect the young people more than any other age group. Researchers in Lorestan have found that those in the 10- to 19-age range, especially students, attempted 45 per cent of all suicides. Between 1999 and 2003, 60 children ages 6 to 13 were admitted to hospital for attempting suicide.

Although no single issue has emerged as "the" cause, researchers believe that family and marital problems are the main reasons behind the high suicide rates, especially in rural areas.

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