IKWRO asked Information and Research Officer Joanne Payton to write a blog to mark World Suicide Prevention Day based on the research she did with Izaddin Rasool.

Every individual suicide feels like a senseless tragedy. Patterns of suicide, multiply this tragedy but give us some hints of what stresses can drive individuals to contemplate taking their own lives. In the UK, the profile of the suicide victim is largely male: often men who have become disconnected from the human relationships of family, work and friends, and succumbed to depression. Generally, as in most cultures, the risk of suicide increases with age.

However, research I conducted with Dr Izaddin Rasool of Salahaddin University in the KRI found very different patterns. In the Kurdistan region of Iraq, suicide has a profile which is almost the opposite of that here in the UK: suicide is predominantly committed by young women, often in response to violence in their homes and relationships. Forced marriage is a particular factor. We found that young women used particularly deadly methods to harm themselves, including self-immolation with fuels, which were used to express their frustration with a social order that allowed women very little self-determination.

And these dynamics, of domestic violence, of forced marriage, of controlling relationships can be just the same for women living in the UK as they are in Kurdistan and the Middle East. While there is no specific research into Middle Eastern women and suicide in the UK, there has been some into Asian families, which have simillar dynamics, in terms of forced marriage and the all-important obsession with family ‘honour’. Nazir Azfal points out that the suicide rate for young Asian women is three times higher than their white counterparts, and can only be compared with the trauma of war veterans; and young women in Asian families may disproportionately suffer from poor mental health, particularly young brides who may face abuse from their mothers-in-law.

It is due to all this knowledge that IKWRO has made all efforts to provide counselling services to its client base, and will help all of our clients to get the help they need, for whatever the reason. Whether it is related to family issues or not, IKWRO will help secure the right kind of support for anyone feeling depressed, angry and hopeless. If you, or anyone you know, needs to reach out for help, please contact us. We can help.

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