A rash of teenage suicides in Russia has set off alarm bells and experts are urging the government to take immediate action.
Russia has the world’s third-highest rate of suicide among teenagers aged 15 to 19, with about 1,500 taking their own lives every year, according to UNICEF. The rate is higher only in the neighboring former Soviet republics of Belarus and Kazakhstan.
On Thursday, the Russian Children Rights Commissioner, Pavel Astakhov, urged the government to take urgent measures to contain the alarming rash of teenage suicides.
“Our government can not continue disregarding the high suicide rates. Continuing [adolescent] suicides point out the necessity of urgent governmental measures,” Astakhov said in a message on his website. “The Health and the Education Ministries should launch programs aimed at tackling adolescent suicides.”
Boris Polozhy of the Serbsky psychiatric center in Moscow said Friday that “until the highest authorities see suicide as a problem, our joint efforts will be unlikely to yield any results.”
Two 14-year-old girls in a town outside Moscow killed themselves this week by jumping off of the roof of a 14-story building while holding hands. Several other teen suicides have been reported elsewhere in Russia.