More than 500 Russian teenagers committed suicide in the first half of 2012, Russia’s Investigative Committee said Tuesday.
According to investigators, 532 minors killed themselves this year, a majority of whom experienced difficulties at home or faced other social problems.
If the trend continues into the second half of 2012, it could register as a third-year increase in underage suicides in Russia. In 2011, 896 teens committed suicide, up from 798 the previous year, according to investigators’ statistics.
The committee also found that specialists in some cases failed to properly evaluate children that ended up committing suicide, or otherwise offered inadequate assistance.
Other indicators, however, suggest the real figures may be higher.
A major report by the United Nations Children’s Fund last year found that, on average, more than 1,700 minors commit suicide each year in Russia.
The report also found that per capita Russia ranks third in the world for teen suicides.
Experts have cited alcoholism and family dysfunction, among other factors, as the leading causes of suicide among children in Russia.
The Internet may have also played a crucial role in the recent spike: VKontakte, the country’s most popular social network, deleted earlier this year several online groups that offered users advice on the “most effective” way to kill themselves.
The problem has attracted enough attention in recent months that even the authorities have shied away from openly discussing it for fear of attracting copycats.
Speaking on the heels of a high-profile series of suicides in April, then-President Dmitry Medvedev warned against widely reporting on the trend in Russia.
“It is indeed very alarming and serious, but it does not mean that it is a snowball that will become bigger and bigger every year,” he said.