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Iran News: Official Demands Ban on Suicide Victim Memorials in Iran

Suicides Spike in Iran girl jumping bridge

In a recent statement on April 21, Behnam Niazi, the head of the Health Network in Boyer-Ahmad County, western Iran, addressed the alarming increase in suicides, cautioning against the normalization of memorial ceremonies for those who take their own lives. He urged municipalities to refrain from installing banners mourning individuals who died by suicide in public spaces. These remarks elicited significant backlash from Iran’s society.

On April 23, Fazel Meybodi, a member of the Qom Seminary, warned of the social consequences of banning memorial services for suicide victims. He pointed out that the majority of recent suicides in Iran are born out of poverty, destitution, and financial hardship.

According to a report by the news website “Emtedad,” in the past five years, from March 2019 until March 2024, at least 196 cases of child suicides have been reported in the media, with some cases going unreported. Among them, 133 individuals, more than 66%, were girls.

Mehdi Roshanfekr, a member of the parliamentary Education Commission, attributed the increase in suicide rates to various factors, including poverty. He highlighted that the incidence of suicide in the Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province is particularly high, with reports of 60 young people taking their lives over three years due to poverty, addiction, unemployment, and lack of resources.

A state-run news website, “Khabar Online,” reported on December 30, 2023, that suicide rates in Iran increased by approximately 51% in 2022 compared to 2016.

Hamid Peyravi, the vice president of the Iranian Society for Suicide Prevention, stated in an interview that suicide rates have been on the rise in recent years. He revealed that in 2022, approximately 7.4 individuals per 100,000 population died by suicide, totaling over 6,000 deaths in the past year alone.

Various factors contribute to individuals’ inclination, decision, and action toward suicide, ranging from economic issues to psychological disorders. Peyravi emphasized that determinants of mental health, including housing, employment, access to education, and access to healthcare services, play a crucial role. He stated that about 60% of those who died by suicide were experiencing depression at the time of their action. Hence, addressing mental health disorders can significantly contribute to reducing suicide rates.

State officials and media openly admit that Iran’s high suicide rate stems from socio-economic issues. However, they conveniently overlook the deeper socio-political pressures contributing to this crisis. With less than one percent of the population enjoying prosperity and the majority living in poverty, the regime itself bears responsibility for the hardship.

The call for banning memorial ceremonies for suicide victims by a local official may reflect the state’s fear of escalating public anger and turning every mourning ceremony into a widespread protest. This is something that has happened to a considerable extent in Iran and continues to occur.