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Iran: Rate of suicide rising in response to poverty and pressure from the regime

Mehdi Afravi, a street vendor in Naderi Street in the city of Ahwaz in southern Iran, committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a speeding train on May 6. He too had had his goods confiscated by municipal officers, after which he was left without a means to provide income for his family.

At least four other people committed suicide on May 14 and 15 alone. On Saturday, May 14, a 21-year-old student of linguistics and English literature in Shiraz University, along with two from Minoudasht in the city of Gorgan, committed suicide, while a 57-year-old man killed himself on May 15 in Aliabad of Boukan.

Also in May, a 65-year-old man by the name of Javad hanged himself from the pedestrian bridge over Mirdamad Street. A suicide note was found in his pocket which explained that while working at a motel he developed glaucoma but lacked the financial means to obtain medical treatment. Seeing no way to continue to support himself after the loss of his eyesight, he resolved to end his own life.

In the recent weeks, there have been many pictures and videos posted to social media illustrating cases of suicide or self-immolation. Some Iran watchers say the rising rate of suicide in the country is a result of poverty, unemployment and extensive suppression. The number of suicides has Iranian regime authorities worried since it is regarded as a form of protest. 

Kazem Jalali, a parliamentarian, noted in his remarks to the regime’s assembly on May 15: “We need to acknowledge that the country’s situation, especially regarding livelihood and economy, is not coherent with the renowned name of the Islamic Republic in the world and the region. The country’s economic growth has been very low, if not negative. The unemployment of the young, especially the educated, is like a time bomb that is about to explode.”

Ahmad Shojaei, the head of the country’s forensics organization, declared the number of suicides in the previous Persian year, ending on March 19, 2016, as 4,020. According to these official statistics, an average of 11 people ended their lives each day throughout that year.

Kazem Malakouti, head of Scientific Assembly to Prevent Suicide, acknowledged in his interview with the state-run ILNA News Agency on May 9: “When someone kills himself in a crowded place like a bridge or subway, his action is not only dangerous but a form of protest.”

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