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4 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Tajik officials say that over 200 people have committed suicide in two Tajik regions in the first six months of 2005.

Foziljon Okhunov, the prosecutor of northern Khatlon region, says that 81 of those suicides were committed in Khatlon.

Tajik police say they registered 127 suicide cases in northern Soghd region.

There were also 52 attempted suicides in those regions in the same time span.

Suicide rates are high in northern Tajikistan, but independent observers say the problem is even worse than it appears. Officials say the average suicide figures are between 250 and 300 every year.

For many Tajiks, suicide is a religious and social taboo. Islam condemns the practice, and society sometimes stigmatizes families of people who have killed themselves. For that reason, many people don't report deaths as suicides.

Other factors -- for example, the fact that not many autopsies are performed in Tajikistan -- add to the difficulties that authorities have in estimating the full scale of the problem.

(RFE/Avesta/IWPR)
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