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Iran’s Suicide Rate Climbs

Samara Greenberg

Iran’s suicide rate has increased by 17% over the last two years, with an average of 10 Iranians taking their lives each day, Ahmad Shaja’i, the country’s chief of forensic medicine, announced last week. Since last year, suicides increased nearly 5%, with 952 Iranians taking their lives between March and August of 2011, compared to 870 suicides during that same time frame in 2010.

According to former Iranian diplomat Mehrdad Khonsari, while suicide rates in Iran have always been higher than in the West, current economic and social conditions are likely factors contributing to this peak. “Iranians don’t live a normal life. There are barriers to interaction between youth, forced marriages, and many young couples must live with their parents because they can’t afford housing,” Khonsari noted.

Much of the Iranian youth embrace a more modern lifestyle.

Indeed, Iranian youth and young adults – a large segment of the population – have few avenues, such as public forms of entertainment, to release everyday stresses, forcing them to routinely push the boundaries. This month the Iranian regime arrested young men and women after they staged a co-ed water fight to beat the summer heat, accusing them of acting “abnormally” and disobeying Islamic principles.

Also making life hard, economic conditions in Iran have worsened since the government instituted its Subsidy Smart Plan in January, which will dismantle the government’s $100 billion subsidy system by 2015 and affect prices on energy and food commodities. Over the last three decades, the regime’s subsidy plan totaled up to $4,000 a year for a family of four – more than the yearly income of many Iranians, which helped the regime maintain support from the lower and working classes. For example, since the plan to dismantle the system began, a spike in costs has put basic electricity out of reach for up to 70% of Iranian families.

From harsh restrictions on daily joys to poor handling of the economy and focus on nuclearization – which has only worsened the economy by bringing on sanctions from the U.S., UN, and Europe – the high suicide rate in Iran is just another symptom of the disease plaguing the country: the regime’s choke-hold on the Iranian people in every aspect of life.