Russian Teen Suicide

Russian teen suicide rates are the third highest in the world drawing comments from the Russian president, Mr. Medvedev.

The spike in teenage suicides began in February, when two 14-year-old girls jumped hand in hand from the 16th-floor roof of an apartment building in suburban Moscow. Afterward, a series of apartment jumps attracted national attention.

Over 24 hours starting on April 9, there were at least six deaths. A girl, 16, jumped from an unfinished hospital in Siberia, while five others hanged themselves: a boy, 15, who died in the city of Perm two days after his mother found him hanging; another 15-year-old, who killed himself on his birthday, in Nizhny Novgorod, a city on the Volga River; teenagers in the northern city of Lomonosov and in Samara; and a 16-year-old murder suspect who used his prison bed sheet to kill himself in Krasnoyarsk.

There have been at least 10 more cases, including a boy, 11, found hanging under the roof of his house in Krasnodar.

Though growing prosperity has tamed Russia’s high rate of adult suicides, the rate of teenage suicides remains three times the world average. Experts blame alcoholism, family dysfunction and other kinds of fallout from the Soviet Union’s collapse, as well as the absence of a mental health structure and social support networks to help troubled young people.

A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund released late last year said Russia, with 143 million people, ranked third in the world in per capita teenage suicides, trailing two other former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Around the world, an average of 7 out of every 100,000 teenagers commit suicide every year. In Russia, that number is 22 per 100,000, and in two regions, Tuva and Chukotka, more than 100 per 100,000. Yearly, more than 1,700 Russians between 15 and 19 take their lives, according to the report.Under Russian law, every school must have at least one psychologist on staff, and there is a national telephone hot line for people to call if they are having suicidal thoughts. But beyond those measures, little effort has been made to address the problem at the federal level.

In February, Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, called the situation “catastrophic.”

Mr. Khlomov said Russian parents and teachers all too often dismiss teenagers when they express suicidal thoughts, treating such talk not as a cry for help, but as an attempt at manipulation. This further isolates young people, he said, reinforcing the conviction that no one will ever understand the way they feel.

The death of one person by suicide is tragic.  It is worse when young people commit suicide, especially when they have most of their lives ahead of them.  Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of teenage death in the states.  I have written an article dealing with how schools can prevent suicide which you will find in the “Resources” section of this website.   If suicide is a problem or potential problem in your school/district, search this website for an article that I have written on preventing suicide.