Wednesday, 11 September 2013 15:40 Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 September 2013 17:59
Officials of the Ministry of Public Health on Wednesday, marking World Suicide Prevention Day in Kabul, said that 95 percent of suicides in Afghanistan are committed by women. More than 2,500 Afghan women have taken their own lives in the past year alone.
Country-wide investigations showed that the vast majority of suicide cases in Afghanistan were amongst woman and young girls experiencing physical abuse, officials said. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Afghan women experience some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world. According to UNAMA’s mid-year report, cases of violence against women were higher in 2013 than in 2012.
In addition to violence, Public Health officials cited forced marriage, often between pre-adolescent girls and adult men, as well as widespread illiteracy as the main adversities facing female Afghans that contribute to the startling rates of suicide.
“Young girls aged 16-19 are most often the victims of suicide,” said Suraya Dalil, Minister of the Public Health.
Cases of self-immolation, hanging, poisoning and exsanguination were all registered this year. Although they did not go into further detail, Public Health officials said that cases of suicide have increased in Afghanistan.
The report of the Ministry of Public Health showed that most of the suicides in Afghanistan are registered in central Kabul, Wardak, and western Herat provinces. The officials did not comment on whether or not this distribution was related to documentation issues or notable characteristics of life in these provinces that led to more suicides.
“Unforuantely, I think all of us, wherever we come from, have experienced somewhere – amongst our friends, family, acquaintances – suicide attempts or suicide cases,” Dr. Richard Pepperkon, a representative of the World Health Organization in Afghanistan on Wednesday.
More than one million people worldwide are said to die annually by suicide.