School psychologists seen as crucial to identifying and heading off suicide risks. Experts in northern Tajikistan are alarmed at the rising suicide rate among young people. In the most recent case, a second-year university student in the provincial centre Khujand hanged herself.
In the past six months, 11 minors committed suicide, out of a total of 136 deaths of this kind in the Sughd region. “Suicides among 12- to 14-year-olds are a national catastrophe,” said Mahbuba Sultonova of Nasl, an NGO in northern Tajikistan.
The motives vary, but family problems, poverty, and lack of employment opportunities have been cited as possible causes. Officials in Sughd are concerned, and are retraining 340 psychologists for deployment in schools across the region.
Psychologists themselves say families are crucial to preventing the adolescent sense of alienation that can lead to suicidal tendencies.
School psychologist Muharrama Rahimova recalls one case where a schoolgirl tried to drown herself after family members accused her of behaving badly and compared her unfavourably with her older siblings. Psychologists invited her parents into the school, and they modified their behavior so that the child was able to reconnect with her family.
Kamar Ahror is a radio journalist in Khujand.
This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union, and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.