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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Speakers are More Prone to Suicide

Highest suicides in
2004 per 100,000 people
The top five measures the government should take to improve the business environment:
1. Lithuania40.2
2. Belarus35.1
3. Russia*34.3
4. Kazakhstan29.2
5. Slovenia28.1
6. Hungary27.7
7. Estonia28.1
8. Japan25.5
9. Latvia24.3
10. Ukraine23.8
*State Statistics Service puts the figure at 32.2 in 2005.
Source: WHO

Russian Internet forums and communities abound with people looking for easy ways to commit suicide and inviting others to join them.

Popular blog site alone has 124 Russian-language communities interested in suicide, with names like Self-Killers Club, Suicide World, and Suicide Truth. The Russian Internet is teeming with chat rooms and forums to discuss the issue, such as, and

Many communities and forums say their goal is suicide prevention, but visits over several days found people eagerly exchanging information on how to commit suicide and find a suicide partner.

"Somebody help me, advise me how to accomplish a certain suicide with medicine," says a comment posted in the LiveJournal community Suicid_mir.

One of the answers to the request reads: "I don't think drugs [are best], most likely [jumping] from a high floor [will do]. I am replying to you because I am looking for someone to accompany me. I am scared to do it alone, but together would be easier, I believe."

The dark deliberations come as no surprise to demographers, who say Russian speakers are more likely to commit suicide than any other group on Earth. Russia has the third-highest suicide rate in the world, with 32 people in every 100,000 killing themselves per year, according to the State Statistics Service figures from 2005, the most recent year available. The leader is Lithuania, followed by Belarus.

Since 1970, the number of people committing suicide in Russia has surpassed the number dying from accidental alcohol poisoning or murders. Twenty-nine people in 100,000 now die from alcohol poisoning every year, and 25 per 100,000 are murdered, according to State Statistics Service.

But it is not all bad news. Russia's suicide rate has been dropping steadily since reaching record highs in the early 1990s. The highs -- which hit a 27-year peak of 41 suicides per 100,000 people in 1995 -- have been linked to the turmoil surrounding the Soviet collapse. The period from the late 1980s to early 1990s was one of decaying social values that was very hard on people, said Alexander Appenyansky, co-chairman of the Russian Association of Psychiatrists.

"A lot of changes happened. Many people lost their jobs and couldn't find new ones, and that is a reason why families broke up," said Yevgeny Gontmakher, head of the Social Policy Center at the Institute of Economics.

G8 Suicides
G8 suicides per 100, 000 people
1. Russia 32.2
2. Japan 25.5
3. France 17.8
4. Germany 13.0
5. Canada11.6
6. United States 11.0
7. Italy7.1
8. Britain6.9
Source: WHO
An uncertain life contributes to a person's decision to end it all, he said.

But life has become a lot more predictable over the past 12 years, fueling optimism throughout the country, according to opinion polls. Levada Center, which has been polling 429 Muscovites about their mood twice a year for the past decade, found that satisfaction with economic circumstances at home and in the rest of country has played a key role in the growth in positive sentiment, said Irina Palilova, a sociologist with the center.

Polling agency VTsIOM has noted a similar trend. "Obvious economic changes have influenced social psychology," VTsIOM spokesman Igor Eidman said.

The suicide rate, however, remains high, in large part due to a lack of close-knit networks of families and friends throughout much of the country and a near-complete absence of crisis centers offering free counseling. Private counseling is too expensive for many, costing an average of 1,000 rubles per hour.

"There are few of these centers in big cities, while in small towns people have nowhere to go if they are depressed or are in low spirits," said Gontmakher of the Social Policy Center.

He said he advocated the creation of a hotline for psychological assistance modeled after the "02" phone number for police and "03" for an ambulance.

Moscow has 10 crisis hotlines offering free counseling, and St. Petersburg has four, according to But most of the hotlines keep strict hours and are aimed as specific groups, such as HIV-positive people, victims of domestic violence, drug users and gays -- not just anyone contemplating suicide.

Svetlana Marinich, a St. Petersburg therapist who has manned a crisis hotline for the city's Petrodvorets district for two years, said she gets a suicide call once every few months. "Mostly they are teenagers and young people who call with such thoughts after an unfortunate romance," she said.

Many other calls come from lonely pensioners, Marinich said.

Marinich noted that women are more likely to attempt suicide, but men are more likely to succeed.