Suicide in Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Baltic Countries: Social and Public Health Determinants
While suicide is a major public health problem worldwide, the countries of the former Soviet Union, including the Baltic States and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), have some of the highest rates in the world. High suicide rates across Eastern Europe have been correlated with the post-Soviet transitional period and the societal changes associated with that transition. Many scholars have speculated that the sudden collapse of the paternalistic Soviet system and the introduction of a market economy - and the psychosocial distress that ensued.contributed to the suicide mortality crisis that most of the former Soviet republics experienced in the 1990s. It is unclear whether the transitional period has ended or is still ongoing. While suicide mortality rates in many countries have declined since then, they remain alarmingly high. In some countries, such as Belarus, the rates have increased.
From September 14 to 15, 2010, suicidologists and other scholars and professionals with expertise in suicide and suicide prevention gathered in Tallinn, Estonia, to discuss the evidence base for social and public health determinants of suicide in the Baltic States, the CIS, and Eastern Europe. The participants identified research and data gaps that, if filled, would strengthen the foundation for developing effective suicide prevention policies and programs. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions that took place during the conference.