From the very beginning of 2017, the reports of suicide in Azerbaijan have been constant and appalling.
The Azerbaijan Press Agency (APA) alone has reported on 161 suicide attempts this year. Only 43 people have survived.
The first case to catch the country’s attention in 2017 was well-known psychologist Dayanat Rzayev. The popular 46-year-old was interviewed on television not long before his death and he said socio-economic pressures can cause suicide. His own reasons for killing himself are unknown.
Other 2017 suicides include an army soldier, two young writers, a blogger, and the wife of a regional administration deputy.
The reasons may vary, but in a country where the currency has lost half its value while the cost of living continues to rise, socio-economic problems are often a factor.
Mutarrim Rahimov committed suicide on the night of August 6, 2016. But the problems that seemingly made him take his own life have not gone away.
According to his son Parviz, Rahimov had money troubles: “He had debts with several banks, Bank of Baku, Unibank. He also had loans from others. Banks or people from whom my father had borrowed threatened him, saying they had connections in the Prosecutor’s Office or in the National Security Ministry. It happened several times. Once he was even in a big brawl.
“Father said he would go to the police and complain about the threats, but that the police didn’t care about it.”
Parviz says bank representatives are still calling his mother and threatening to take away her home with the help of the local government:
“It’s awful. The Prosecutor’s Office only made a statement that my father hanged himself, and that’s all. No one cares about it. The state, the banks — they don’t care about the people. Every day we read the news or posts on social network that somebody committed suicide. But nobody tries to find out the reason.”
April ended with the mysterious suicide case of blogger Mehman Galandarov. On April 28 he was found dead in prison, where he had been held since February 7. The blogger’s sister confirmed his death, and the chairman of the National Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, Galandar Mukhtarli, said he saw the body. Mukhtarli was planning to meet Galandrov inside the jail, but received a call from an acquaintance that Galandarov had hanged himself. So he went to the morgue, where he says he saw the victim’s brother-in-law claim the body.
At first the public relations department of the Penitentiary Service disputed the information about the death. According to a Facebook posting by human rights activist Ogtay Gulaliyev, after four hours of searching he found that Galandrov had been buried near the prison. The brother-in-law has not confirmed this.