At least five doctors in Iran have reportedly committed suicide in the last 50 days, according to a state-run media outlet in Tehran.

The figures provided by Tejarat News, a non-independent news outlet, indicate that a doctor has taken their own life approximately every 10 days since the beginning of the Persian New Year in late March.

While there has been a significant increase in suicides among young doctors, students, teachers and others in Iran, the country’s Ministry of Health has been accused of withholding accurate statistics on suicide rates.

"Unfortunately, there are no official statistics available on doctors' suicides. This has been a problem in previous years too, but now, with the prevalence of online platforms, news spreads rapidly,” the head of the Iranian Nursing Organization, Mohammad Sharifi Moghadam told Tejarat News.

Among those lost to suicide recently are physician Zahra Maleki Ghorbani, rheumatology specialist Samira Al-e-Saeedi, and cardiovascular specialist Parastoo Bakhshi.

The Silence of Iran’s Ministry of Health

Despite acknowledging the rising suicide rates, the government has been criticized for its lack of action and ineffective policies to address the underlying issues driving suicide.

Moghadam emphasized the Ministry of Health's neglect of the challenges faced by young doctors and medical graduates in Iran, highlighting it as a persistent issue.

"Despite years of dedication and education, some individuals have reached a point where they prefer death to life," he said.

Former health minister Hassan Hashemi similarly decried the government’s silence surrounding the suicides, stating that "it is the duty of the Minister of Health and his other colleagues to examine these issues with the help of sociologists, psychologists, and other experts and find a solution as soon as possible to prevent this shocking incident."

Homayoun Sameh Najafabadi, a member of the health committee of the Iranian parliament, acknowledged the gravity of the issue but refrained from elaborating on why the parliament doesn't demand accountability from the Ministry of Health.

Factors Behind Iran’s ‘Suicide Crisis’

Though the exact reasons why someone commits suicide are often complex and multifaceted, and may not be fully understood by others, Tejarat News has suggested some contributing factors to the underlying issues that contribute to the suicide trend in Iran.

The outlet claimed that contributing factors included the separation of married couples due to work and financial struggles, restrictions on alternative employment, and the lack of respect for medical staff in certain hospital settings.

These challenges, the report suggests, culminate in feelings of depression and hopelessness, affecting even the country's elite youth.

"The work pressure is so high that these people lose their footing," Moghadam said, pointing out that livelihood struggles and disrespect from hospital administrators compound the already immense challenges faced by doctors in Iran.

Mohammad Mirkhani, a social consultant at the Medical Council of Iran, attributed the significant increase in doctor suicides in Iran to the challenging working conditions they face. He noted, "Medical assistants sometimes work for 72 hours straight, which poses extreme dangers to their mental well-being. Such conditions often lead to depression."

But, the suicide crisis faced by the medical community also extends to students and other parts of the country’s workforce.

In February, the labor union, the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Associations, described the situation of student suicides as a "tsunami."

Last year, over the course of 283 days, 23 workers committed suicide, according to a report by the ‘reformist’ Etemad newspaper.

That outlet listed poverty, arrears, and demands for wages and dismissal from the workplace as reasons for the suicide rate among workers.

Experts have attributed the increased suicides in Iran to the systemic reluctance and neglect of Iranian authorities to address workers' conditions – identifying it as one of the key underlying causes.

With a history of long-standing human rights violations, experts anticipate that Iranian authorities will continue to neglect the well-being of the country’s workforce and other segments of society, perpetuating a cycle of suffering and injustice.

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