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Friday, February 17, 2012

Russians alarmed by rash of teenage suicides

By Mansur Mirovalev
Associated Press
Originally published 2/10/12

MOSCOW (AP) — 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 a recent UNICEF report. The rate is higher only in the neighboring former Soviet republics of Belarus and Kazakhstan.
In recent years, there have been 19-to-20 annual suicides per 100,000 teenagers in Russia — three times the world average, Boris Polozhy of the respected Serbsky psychiatric center in Moscow said Friday.

"Until the highest authorities see suicide as a problem, our joint efforts will be unlikely to yield any results," he said.

In the southwestern Siberian region of Tuva, the rate reaches a staggering 120 suicides per 100,000 teenagers, while the nearby region of Buryatiya has an average rage of 77 per 100,000. Both regions are impoverished and have high crime and alcoholism rates.

Two 14-year-old girls in the Moscow suburb of Lobnya killed themselves this week by jumping off the roof of a 14-story building while holding hands. They had skipped classes for two weeks and were terrified of what their parents would do to them once they found out, Russian media quoted their friends as saying.