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Suicides and Suicidal tendencies increased due to presidential decrees: Kesk Report

The Confederation of Public Workers’ Trade Unions (KESK), one of Turkey’s four major national union organizations, has published a report on the incidence of suicides and suicidal tendencies among Turkish citizens related to the [politically motivated] dismissals from work following the 15 July coup attempt. The report identifies these dismissals, and long periods of unemployment, as factors behind the widening instances of suicide or suicidal tendencies, and observes that the executive orders, [which under the current state of emergency allow the cabinet to exercise powers including dismissing public workers without going through parliament], are a factor behind the suicides.

The report, prepared by the employment expert Sinan Ok, reveals that 27 male citizens had committed suicide during the state of emergency period up to 20 March 2017. According to the report, the highest incidence of suicide took place during October, 2016. The highest number of suicides occurred among security personnel, while five teachers committed suicide, the second highest number of any profession. The highest instance of suicide was seen among the 45-50 age group, and twenty percent took place while under detention in prison.

Feelings of hopelessness, feeling like a “leech”

KESK also conducted a survey between 10 February and 15 March 2017 of 5,000 workers who had been dismissed by executive order. The results show that 314 people, including 101 women, had expressed a leaning in some form towards ending their own lives. While 23 of these openly described having suicidal thoughts, the other 291 described experiencing other psychological problems. These respondents described how their problems stemmed from “feeling like a leech”, feeling hopeless, and seeing no way to defend their rights. Some of the respondents discussed how they had received psychological treatment, while others described experiencing mental health issues. Sinan Ok, the employment expert in charge of the report, stated that the socio-political dimension of the dismissals would be discussed at KESK’s convention on the issue held on the first and second of April.

Left to deal with feelings of guilt

The evaluation section of the report summarizes the plight faced by the thousands dismissed by executive order: “As well as losing their most basic means of making a living, the hundreds of thousands of people who have, in a single night and without time to prepare, been left unemployed experience problems such as the breakdown of social and family relations, and the need to migrate. In addition to this, there are thousands, left disgraced and dealing with feelings of guilt, who have died in suicides or attempted them, or who have shown a leaning towards ending their own lives.”

Translated from Burcu Karakas’s article by Mike Kenson

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