Like other countries, male suicide is more frequent in Georgian than female. It is noteworthy that the number of female suicides has significantly decreased in 2010. According to American student Anna Hawthorn (who works at the Suicide Prevention Council hot line in USA), high male unemployment; and the feeling that they are not successful and cannot serve as bread-winners for their families is a major factor. Men find it harder to endure as they are less-apt to seek medical or psychological help.
According to the World Health Organization, “Mental disorders (particularly depression and alcohol abuse) are major risk factors for suicide in Europe and North America. However, in Asian countries, impulsiveness plays an important role. Suicide is complex with psychological, social, biological, cultural and environmental factors involved.”
The epidemiological research of psychical disorders has not been conducted for the last 20 years in Georgia. Thus, suicides and suicide attempts have not been recorded accurately.
Nino Makhashvili, psychologist: Since suicide is a very sensitive issue, people choose not to report on it. That is why we do not have good sources of statistical information, thus the MIA data cannot be correct.
This information is confirmed by the Director of Union Sapari Nato Zazashvili: “we do not have precise statistical information. I think such information does not even exist. There are several reasons for it, so far, mental health is not the priority for the country, therefore there are no instruments for gathering precise information on it and no mechanisms to cultivate them. Another reason is religious – spiritual friends try to draw a different picture. This topic is so sensitive that relatives are trying to avoid speaking on it.”
According to the World Health Organization, for the year of 2020 depression will be the second cause of invalidism after heart-vessel diseases.
According to statistics, people above 40 commit suicide most frequently. However, suicide occurrence (as well as attempts) is rather high in young people between the ages of 25-40.
According to the MIA 2010 statistics, out of 334 people who committed suicide, 289 are men and 45 – women. As for the attempts of suicide, according to the MIA, 705 are men and 401 – women.
According to the data recorded over the the last 18 years, between the years of 1999-2008, 5,300 people committed suicide in Georgia. Since the 90s, the highest number of suicides was observed in 2003. Later, this number decreased but it started increasing in 2007 and almost doubled for 2010.
According psychologists, the increase in suicides is related to difficult social and political situations. According to professionals, there are several main reasons for suicide: mental disorder, stress and depression.
According to Nato Zazashvili, the psychologist, the increase in the occurrence of suicide is related to hard social and economic conditions during last 20 years and among them are conflicts on ethnic basis. Long-term stress environment makes society exhausted psycho-emotionally and weakens its ability to surmount.
“Georgia has gone through the war, the lost war. It affected negatively not only on IDPs but the whole society, and, especially on men. They got a feeling that they will not be able to save their land and families. Consequently, in this psycho-emotional environment, these people either try to run away from reality through using drugs or alcohol or end their lives by committing suicide.”
As for the age group, Nato Zazashvili explains the facts of increased suicides among people over 40: “Most men over 40 have families and are considered to be the guards of their families. This is an age when people look back on their lives and evaluate their achievements in their personal life and other spheres. And this is the period when a person endures double responsibility – taking care of their kids and of parents. In the post-Soviet countries, the situation of men of this age is hardened by the fact that many lost their jobs. The number of divorces has increased, plus the problem of alcoholism, drug addiction, etc…”
As for the methods of suicides, vein cutting is frequently observed in Georgia, taking large amount of dangerous medications is rather frequent as well. As the forum.ge subscribers state, these two methods are very popular in Georgia.
“I was 16 when I tried to commit suicide. I was in love and had problems at home. I preliminarily planned how to kill myself – locked myself up in my room, got drunk and tried to cut my veins. I lost consciousness quickly. My friend came in good time and quickly brought me to the hospital,” – states a 25-year-old man to the Human Rights Center.
Psychologist Nino Makhashvili explains the frequency of male suicide by that fact of the unemployment problem. The function and a role of men are changing in the modern society; this lowers their self-esteem. It is very important to create suicide prevention programs. There should be suicide prevention programs in the public health sphere. Unfortunately, no NGO has such a program.
The Georgian Health Ministry has no statistics or programs related to suicide and its prevention was confirmed by the official of the Ministry press-center Tako Gopodze in a telephone commentary.
However, these kinds of programs are implemented by many countries with hot lines, suicide prevention programs etc… Lithuania, which has the highest suicide occurrence statistics, is particularly distinguished with similar programs among post-soviet countries.
Nino Makhashvili, psychologist: “Georgia was at war in 2008. The county is re-traumatized. Obviously people are experiencing hardships. The war takes away the feeling of security, especially when you lose a dear one or when you lose a house. If one is inclined to depression, it is easy to take the step of suicide when your safety is taken away.”
“Giorgi was fighting in the war. He was a military servant by contract and fought in the August war. When he came back, his nervous system was very poor. His mom asked him to visit the doctor but he did not go. Then he was found hanging from a tree. He had committed suicide,” – the neighbor of a former special force officer.
Shorena Latatia who has been working on the monitoring of IDP situation since 2008, states that the IDPs are in extremely severe state. The recent evictions particularly contribute to their depression.
“The mass eviction of IDPs in 2010 was followed by long protest rallies. Twelve IDPs sew their mouth shut in front of the Ministry of Refugees and accommodation. An IDP from Abkhazia Nana Pipia burned herself and died in the hospital later. Despite all this, the evictions are proceeding, and that creates skepticism and despair among IDPs. IDPs often note that they are ready to share Nana Pipia’s fate to show the Ministry and the whole country the injustice committed by the government.”
According to Nino Makhashvili no research has been conducted to show the suicide frequency among the population: “In the midst of 90s, really good research was conducted that showed that the suicide rate was a lot higher among the IDP population. Now we do not know that, unfortunately.”
It is noteworthy that developed countries examine the economical aspects of this issue. As Anna Hawthorn states, the USA loses four-thousand dollars for every one attempt of suicide. The USA has experienced a 1.2 million dollar loss because of suicides.
According to Nino Makhashvili, no such research has been conducted in Georgia: “We are not aware of the economic weight of this problem. The moral and psychological weight is huge, not to mention the economic weight. We have not estimated such economic aspects in Georgia.”