Suicide rates rise in Afghanistan amid poverty, unemployment

By Omar

Suicide rates have spiked among Afghan youth in recent months, especially among girls, amid a deepening economic crisis and uncertainty about the future, according to local medical officials in western Afghanistan. [Omar/Salaam Times]

HERAT -- Suicide rates have spiked among Afghan youth in recent months, especially among girls, amid a deepening economic crisis and uncertainty about the future, according to medics and local media.

Over the past two months, some 27 Afghans committed suicide in 10 provinces, with a majority of the victims being women, TOLOnews reported July 19.

As many as 1,000 residents have attempted suicide in Herat province over the past six months, the media outlet said, with almost 20 fatalities.

Almost 70% of those attempting suicide were women or girls.

Abdul Rauf, 75 (centre), whose son was imprisoned following his daughter-in-law's death, holds one of his grandchildren July 21 in Herat city. [Omar/Salaam Times]

Abdul Rauf, 75 (centre), whose son was imprisoned following his daughter-in-law's death, holds one of his grandchildren July 21 in Herat city. [Omar/Salaam Times]

According to Dr. Mohammad Arif Jalali, chief medical officer at Herat Regional Hospital, 85% of those who committed suicide were male and female youth between the ages of 15 and 25.

"The most common methods of suicide among young Heratis are self-immolation, hanging or a drug overdose," he explained.

Herat Regional Hospital receives five to seven patients a day, on average, who have attempted to take their own lives, he said.

Most of them have consumed toxic or chemical substances and "are saved by our doctors", Jalali said, noting that generally such patients are either students or housewives.

Former government employees and workers who suffer from severe depression and anxiety are among those attempting suicide, he added, pointing to a prevailing sense of hopelessness amid the situation in the country.

Rising hunger and poverty

Zulaikha, a 23-year-old mother of two, allegedly hanged herself in Herat city on July 16. The family does not use a last name.

Her husband, a labourer, had not worked in several months, and the family faced acute hunger. Most nights the three children went to bed without food.

The young woman could no longer tolerate the poverty, unemployment and sense of helplessness and therefore ended her life, said her family.

"My son was imprisoned following my daughter-in-law's suicide," said Zulaikha's father-in-law, Abdul Rauf, 75.

Although the family says Zulaikha killed herself, police are investigating her husband in connection with her death.

"We do not have a breadwinner in the household," said Rauf. "Life is becoming so difficult, and we do not have anything to eat for survival."

"My son is a labourer and could not find a job for the past several months," he said. "They did not have anything to eat for dinner. My daughter-in-law suffered from psychological issues due to poverty."

Poverty has made his own life miserable as well, said Rauf.

"When my brother lost his job, the inevitable challenges of his household started to rise," said Zulaikha's sister-in-law Saleha, 32.

"My sister-in-law could not find a job, despite asking around at others' houses," Saleha said, describing the weeks leading up to Zulaikha's death. "Their problems worsened day by day."

"My brother is a labourer and lives in a rented house," she added. "He has to pay 3,000 AFN ($33) for the monthly rent. He could not earn enough to pay the rent and buy food for his family."

The landlord used to come looking for the rent, which placed great pressure on her brother and his wife, said Saleha.

Zulaikha was always weeping and sad because her children were starving, said her mother-in-law, Khadeeja, 56.

"My grandchildren were crying all night long from hunger," she said. "They could eat something only when their neighbours had donated."

After her daughter-in-law's death and her son's imprisonment, it has fallen to her to take care of the couple's children.

'Many have lost hope'

Thousands of Afghans have lost their jobs over the past year, and the closure of schools has forced millions of Afghan girls to stay home.

The psychological pressure of remaining at home with nothing to do has been too much for many Afghans to take, activists said.

Almost 80,000 patients have visited the hospital's mental health department for treatment in less than a year, according to Herat Regional Hospital.

Of this number, 40% were students and former government employees.

The current difficult situation has made many young Afghans pessimistic, as they face an uncertain future, said Herat activist Hasan Hakimi.

"Many young people who eagerly completed their schooling are now jobless," he said. "This has affected their mental stability because they feel helpless and desperate."

"Afghans, particularly young women, have lost hope," Hakimi said. "Many educated Afghans who suffer from joblessness and anxiety cannot tolerate such a situation, and some of them commit suicide."

Afghanistan is at a crossroads, said Hakimi, warning about the rising suicide rate among youth due to ongoing restrictions and instability.

The job environment is becoming tougher for young Afghans, trapping the unemployed in their homes, said Herat city activist Sayed Ashraf Sadaat.

Educated youth are grappling with the psychological pressures of unemployment and instability, Sadaat said, noting that if the situation is not addressed immediately, more youth will flee the country.

Extremists and uneducated rivals will fill their places in society, he cautioned.

"I have witnessed the dismissal of many women and men from public service in recent months, and they are all now jobless," he said.

"There is no hope left for these young Afghans."

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The international community, especially the United States, the previous government, and the Taliban, are equally involved in this crime. In the last 20 years, the international community did not build any such infrastructure that could support even 100,000 families. The officials of the previous government did it only to fill their pockets. They did not think about the nation. And the Taliban are mercenaries of Pakistan. Whatever Pakistan tells him to do, they do it. For the Taliban, neither Afghanistan nor Afghanistan matters.


Committing suicide by people due to unemployment and poverty is a reality. It is a different matter if someone turns a blind eye to it. Every day or every week, many people commit suicide due to mental stress and depression. There is no work; the children want food, clothes, competition with other children... Finally, the father or brother of the family is forced to commit suicide due to the bad economy. It is a great misfortune here that when a group is not in power, it preaches to the people that when they take over power, the country will flourish, but when they come to power, they get more involved in corruption than before, and they create more troubles. Now that the Taliban claim to be free from any sin and the employees of the previous government do not seem human to them, this is the reason that one day their government will also be destroyed. The same people, who now have no respect for the Taliban, rise against them, and finally, one day, their struggle will reach such an extent that they will challenge and destroy the government. So, suppose the Islamic Emirate wants to strengthen its roots. In that case, it should give value to the high-ranking and low-ranking but corruption-free individuals and officials, treat them humanely and understand their problems at this time. Otherwise, all of them would not commit suicide; instead, they will stand against the Taliban, and one day they will take their revenge, but they should hold talks and all parties create a united gov


This news is really sad and affecting. May God help the people of Afghanistan. The current situation in Afghanistan proves that we would never be able to have a progressive and stable country with charity and international aids. It is a matter of shame for both the previous governments of Afghanistan and its international partners that they failed to establish a system to feed the people in 20 years and with the pouring of billions of dollars. If this money could be properly managed and there was no stealing and embezzlement in its utilization, Afghanistan and its people wouldn’t be facing such a situation. It wasn’t only the politicians of Afghanistan who were corrupt and thieves, many foreigners who were working as consultants or managers in Afghanistan were also involved in corruption, otherwise, there wasn’t any possibility that the authorities in the previous government could steal this much money by themselves.


This is completely false claiming that they have injected billions of dollars into Afghanistan. Almost all the money that was brought from the United States to Afghanistan was paid in the salaries of their soldiers, luxurious spending, and other activities that were beneficial for them only. Also death to dirty Iran, death to cursed Pakistan


A disaster in every aspect. I don't know how long the people of Afghanistan would have to pay for the mistakes and betrayals of their leaders. During the last twenty years, the traitorous leaders of Afghanistan filled their pockets, bought houses and in luxury places abroad, and started large businesses. They eat at first-class restaurants and dance with beautiful girls in discotheques and drink all night. They were considering themselves as the true representatives of the people and were getting privileged by their name, but now that the same people are dying of hunger and even committing suicide, they don’t raise their voice, and they don’t have enough conscience to get a small amount of money they have stolen from the national treasury to help the poor people. The current leaders also don’t consider these people as their own and don’t feel any sense of responsibility towards them. May God destroy them all and may God never give any other country such corrupt, traitorous, unscrupulous, and greedy leaders as Afghanistan have. :(


Whenever a new government is formed in Afghanistan, no one considers the employees of the previous governments as Muslims. What do they do? The unemployment and poverty increase as much as people commit suicide for hopelessness, and no aid comes from the outside, also the main reason for poverty in Afghanistan is the rapid change of the states.


It is true regarding unemployment and poverty in Afghanistan these days. Committing suicide due to poverty cannot be ruled out. The only reason for the country's unemployment recurrence is the quick change of governments. I agree that changes in governments are a common thing in the world. Still, the biggest misfortune that our people have been facing for decades is that whenever a new group takes over power, they treat the previous government's employees unjustly. They look at the previous administration's employees not only as Muslims but as humans, either. Here, the new successful administration always claims to be right; due to the new administration's takeover of power, people lose their jobs and go back to the pit of poverty. If the new officials would not focus on this aspect, it is not far that Afghans will face a big disaster. Today the suicide cases have certainly increased, and the country and its people are facing a gradual death. People in rural areas are often mistaken. They have not even received humanitarian aid, and no one cares about them. The food aids from WFP are distributed based on personal relationships, and no one cares about the poor people.


It’s not only the economic calamity that drags people to death each day. Nowadays the outbreak of cholera disease has killed hundreds of Afghans, but the Taliban are hiding the actual death tolls because they don’t want to admit their incompetence and mismanagement. According to the SHAFAQNA news agency and other media, credible sources in the west of Afghanistan report the outbreak of cholera and murrain in this region. Sources that similar cases of the disease which break out in the south of the country were recorded in Badghis and Farah provinces. A source in Farah’s provincial hospital who didn’t want to share his identity said, several residents in different districts of the province were infected with quasi-cholera- disease and were shifted to the center of the province for treatment. According to him, although these patients have some symptoms of cholera, the identification of this disease hasn’t been confirmed. At the same time, he says that the kits for diagnosing cholera diseases are not available. Meanwhile, healthcare sources in Badghis province say that some cases similar to cholera have also been identified in this province. One of the doctors of Badghis central hospital, who didn’t want to share his identity said that 100 people with the quasi-cholera disease have been identified in a village near Qala-e-Naw, the center of this province. The doctor also said that cholera diagnosis facilities are not available in Badghis. Sources say that because of the pressur