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Suicidal youth not taken seriously in Kazakhstan: UNICEF

Photo courtesy of npr.org Photo courtesy of npr.org

The popular belief is that individuals who talk about committing suicide do it just for the sake of gaining some attention. Yet, a recent research conducted by international scientists in collaboration with the Kazakhstani government and UNICEF shows that a quarter of Kazakhstani teenagers who committed suicide had talked about it priory to the actual act with their friends or family, Tengrinews reports.

24% of these teens talked about their intentions, but did not receive the necessary support or help from their loved ones. The reason? The popular belief that one is serious when one says nothing but does the deed. Researches believe that talking about suicide helps people cope with the feeling of helplessness that arises with suicidal thoughts.

25% of those who attempted suicide but survived said that they had mentioned their intentions to commit suicide to their family members or friends. Yet, the plea for help was either ignored or not understood.

According to the research, 90% of teenagers who committed suicide in Kazakhstan had various psychological disorders. More than a half of them had been suffering from mental disorders for at least two years prior to committing suicide.

In 2011, the Ministry of Health of Kazakhstan reported 7 thousand children and 13 thousand teenagers with primary diagnosis of behavioral or mental disorders.

Unfortunately, the analysis showed that only a small percentage of the patients who attempted suicide received institutional help from psychologists and psychiatrists.

International researches stress the influence of alcohol on Kazakhstani teens. 44.9% of the teens from the risk group were reported being extremely drunk at least once.

Alcohol, too, is one of the factors contributing to suicide in Kazakhstan. Researches advised raising awareness among the citizens about the harmful influence of alcohol on teenagers.

In addition, in 30% of the suicide cases psychological autopsy revealed  an inherent family history of suicidal behaviour. These genetic and social conditions are also primary factors among suicidal youth in Kazakhstan.

A child psychologist Sergey Sklyar commented on the research. Dr. Sklyar said that it was important to consider biological, social and psychological factors when dealing with suicidal teens. In case of successful suicides, the factors are more biological than social or psychological. “We are talking about a depression or a state of crisis. It is less psychological or social. These factors play a role too, yet not as strong as the biological factors do,” Dr. Sklyar said.

Sadly, according to Dr. Sklyar, parents of suicidal teens do not seek professional help in most of the cases.

“It is very difficult to make parents seek professional help. In such situations a child must be under medical and psychiatric care, but parents do not understand it. Even if a school psychologist identifies the range and insists on working in cooperation with a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, the parents are against it. Today this is the biggest problem,” Dr. Sklyar said.

It is not enough to study the causes of suicide cases. What is more important, Dr. Sklyar maintained, is to establish cooperation between healthcare institutions, law enforcement authorities and education professionals.

“It is possible that the number of registered suicides is higher in Kazakhstan than in other countries not only because there are more of these cases, but because the registration methods are better here than in most countries,” he added.

Registration or not, Kazakhstan still remains on the top of the suicide list of the WHO. There are 13 cases per 100 thousand people in Kazakhstan. In particular, between 1981-2008 suicide rates worldwide had been dropping, while in Kazakhstan they were growing. During the period Kazakhstan saw an increase from 22.5 to 25.6 cases per 100 thousand people. In 2010 the situation did not improve and there were 3617 registered cases. 80% of the victims were young people at the age of 18-29.

Reporting by Renat Tashkinbayev, writing by Gyuzel Kamalova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina 

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