News / 20.05.19

Strizhak: Suicides indicate problems in Belarus' economy

Men commit suicides oftener than women; and villagers commit suicides oftener than urban residents. People face huge problems in working and earning enough money – this is one of the main reasons for suicides.

"The country's economic situation and the state of the labour market play a significant role in a person's decision to die," says Andrei Strizhak, a rights defender and a member of the Board of the REP Trade Union. "Many suicides, caused by problems at work or by economic reasons are hidden, because self-killers not always leave pre-mortal letters. However, even from what we see in media reports, economic reasons quite often drive people to make such fatal decisions."

In general, the situation with ordinary workers in the country is constantly deteriorating. One of the reasons is the universal spread of fixed short-term labour contracts. Being forced to sign such contracts, employees are under constant stress because of uncertainty about contract extension and a vulnerable position against the employer. The working conditions do not make workers' life easier – this is evident from the appeals that independent trade unions are receiving.

Fedynich: no neighbouring countries put such yoke on workers like Belarus

Workers are forced to perform duties beyond their usual service ones. It was in the case with an employee of the gas rescue service in the Gomel Region, who perished, when ordered to clean the barn roof. State servants from different branches are regularly sent to agricultural works.

"The working conditions have become so bad that people began protesting and defending their rights; for example, like the recent protests at the Minsk trolleybus and bus fleets," said Andrei Strizhak. "The economy is driving people into deadlock. Due to the worsened economic situation, there are continuing layoffs in the public sector, which are not compensated by the growth of the private sector, where the liberated human resources could flow. Small businesses, as well as individual entrepreneurs, are also living through hard times. The growing number of suicides suggests that things are not quite well here, including in the economic sphere."

Economic problems are important from the point of view that people may not find opportunities for self-expression; while financial difficulties undermine the position of families, notes Elena Artyomenko, a sociologist.

SEE THE FULL COMMENT BY SOCIOLOGIST ELENA ARTYOMENKO HERE

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