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Alarming Suicide Rate Among Ahwazi Arabs

Poverty is driving suicide among Ahwazi Arabs to alarming levels.

Ahmad Shojaee, the head of forensic science in Iran, claimed that in the past year 4,055 people committed suicide across Iran with the highest rates in Ahwazi Arab and Kurdish areas.

While the rate is relatively low by world standards, some regions have very high rates of suicide that coincide with high rates of poverty. Hanging is the cause of most suicides, but self-immolation, drug overdose and poisoning are increasingly common. The common method of suicide differs between regions.

Among Ahwazi Arabs who committed suicide were Mehdi Afravi (pictured), who lay on a railway track and was run over by a train. He killed himself after his kiosk was confiscated at Naderi market in Ahwaz.

In an infamous incident in March 2015, Younes Asakareh set himself alight in protest against a police raid on his fruit stand, which destroyed his stock. He later died of his burns.

More recently, a man in Malashiyeh killed his son and daughter before committing suicide due to desperate poverty and were unable to afford basic food. A woman in Ahwaz killed herself after killing her husband due to his unemployment.

In the past month, a man committed suicide in Dar Khoween, which is in the centre of the oil-producing region, after losing his job.

Tehran University sociologist Dr Saeed Moeed Far claims that the highest rates of suicide are in less developed areas such as the Arab-majority Khuzestan province and the Kurdish-majority Ilam province, particularly among women and young men due to the social and economic crisis in these areas. The benefits of industrialisation have largely excluded Ahwazi Arabs when it comes to employment and housing, while they continue to endure the negative health and environmental effects of economic development.

Statistics from Iran's Ministry of Health show that in deprived areas around 13 people take their lives every day with the average age at 29 years. Men outnumber women by 2.5-4.5 to one. Over a 20 year period, the suicide rate has increased 360 per cent.