Teenage suicides in Russia

Over the past ten years the
number of teenage suicides on Russia has fallen by 20%, according to Anna
Ivanova from the central research institute for health of the Ministry of Social
Development, presenting the results of recent research. However, Russia still
holds third place in the world for teenage suicides – about 1,500 deaths a year
from such causes. Boys account for 25% more suicides than girls, and a majority
of cases involve children in detention centres and prisons. That is the case in
most countries. The lower number of suicides is due to a reduction in the
factors which led to an upsurge in the 1990s, such as alienation, the loss of
clear aims in society and economic difficulties. The lack of a positive social
perspective led to a rise in teenage suicides, but the recent improvement has
been uneven around the country. The north-west, far east, and east Siberia are
traditionally regions with a high risk, and Udmurtia has the highest risk. For
this reason experts cannot agree on a single preventative and support programme,
but they recommend using methods tried in the West, such as developing social
networks to reduce feelings of loneliness in difficult life situations. In
addition there need to be specialised services for teenagers in difficulty.


In 37 regions local
polyclinics have 150 medical and social support units for teenagers. They do
not describe themselves as units designated to prevent suicides, as they need
to appear neutral so as to be attractive to the teenagers, according to Karina
Vartanova from the UNICEF programme Health and Development of Young People. She
said that clinical psychologists can help teenagers to get through their
adolescent years, as the situation should not be seen as requiring only the
services of psychiatrists, since there are many causes for suicidal feelings. For
example such feelings increase during weekends and holidays, causing temporary
crises. There is a clinic in Moscow for young people who have made unsuccessful
attempts at suicide, while in the regions they go to hospitals. They rarely
need to see a psychiatrist, and can often be helped by social organisations,
she said.


State services tend to concentrate
on families with socio-economic difficulties, but experts say that they should
also pay attention to well-off families, as it is not well understood why
children from such families commit suicide. There can be hidden conflicts in
such families, or the child simply did not get help in time. Young people need
to know to whom they can turn for help. They can find out which organisations
are available from friends, school teachers and school counsellors, said Ms
Vartanova. However, if the young person is in conflict with his or her own surroundings,
they may not accept such help.



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