Leaflets placed at the 62-meter-high Kiev Bridge in the Armenian capital of Yerevan offer a simple message: “Choose life, not death.” They are also a sign that Armenia is grappling with an uncomfortable reality – a drastic rise in the suicide rate.
The numbers paint an alarming picture: from 2003-13, the annual number of suicides and suicide attempts in this economically challenged South-Caucasus country, as recorded by the National Statistical Service, soared from 377 to 768 cases – a more than 100 percent increase. Most cases involve jumping off a bridge, in particular Yerevan’s Kiev Bridge, or hanging. As yet, no extensive study of the trend has been conducted.
In the absence of hard data, some observers link the spike in suicides to Armenia’s tough economic conditions, in which nearly a third of Armenia’s official population of 2.9 million people is believed to live in poverty. Others point to societal factors, such as widespread domestic violence.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.