Suicide rates in Turkey surge: official statistics

Data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) show that the number of deaths by suicide in Turkey has surged, rising from 2,584 in 2001 to 4,061 in 2023, the Bold Medya news website reported on Wednesday.

According to the “Death and Cause of Death Statistics Report,” the number of suicides increased by 57 percent between 2001 and 2023, a period during which the population grew by 30 percent.

The report highlights that 76 percent of those who died by suicide were men, with 40 percent of them aged between 20 and 34.

Firearms accounted for 25 percent of all the suicides.

The report also reveals a rise in suicides attributed to unknown causes. In 2023, 1,135 suicides were recorded as “cause unknown,” comprising 31 percent of the total, up from 6 percent in 2001. The data indicate that 59 percent of the suicides in 2023 either had no known cause or the cause was not disclosed.

“Factors such as, economic hardship, hopelessness and limited access to healthcare appear to be driving these suicides,” Kubilay Yalçınkaya, a workplace representative for the Health and Social Service Workers Union, said.

A staggeringly high cost of living has become the new normal in Turkey, where recent increases in food and utility prices are pushing up inflation, further crippling the purchasing power of citizens.

Turkey’s hunger threshold for the month of May increased to TL 19,926 ($618), extending its lead over the minimum wage of TL 17,002 ($527).

One of the groups that is affected by the economic situation is university students. Turkish media has been reporting an increase in suicides among university students in recent months.

Children in earthquake-stricken regions of Turkey are also experiencing a dramatic rise in suicide attempts, with some as young as 8 years old. Two major earthquakes that struck 11 provinces in Turkey’s south and southeast in February 2023 left more than 53,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands injured or displaced while causing massive devastation.

Three out of every 10 police officers in Turkey have considered suicide, according to a recent study conducted by the Police Union.

Despite the uptick in police suicides in recent years, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), previously rejected a parliamentary motion to investigate a rising trend in suicides among police officers.

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