Germany: Young Turkish-German women 5 times more likely to attempt suicide

Germany: Young Turkish-German women 5 times more likely to attempt suicide

Via Spiegel:

The number of attempted suicides is five times as high among young Turkish-German women than their ethnic German counterparts. In a state of limbo between two cultures, they often succumb to despair. Sema, a 27-year-old woman who tried to commit suicide twice, is a case in point.

Her parents had just had another one of their arguments, and that night she swallowed all the pills she could find -- two entire bottles. She fell asleep quickly and was taken to the hospital, where doctors pumped out her stomach. She was 13.

Perhaps it was only an attempt that time. Perhaps she wasn't really trying to kill herself, but was crying out for help instead. She doesn't remember.


Sema's father forbade her from playing with the other children in her class, saying that they were Turks and not Germans. Germany was their opportunity, not their new home. Sema cleaned the apartment and cooked for herself, eating eggs, French fries and beef sausages.

Her family believed that the more they worked, the faster they would succeed in this new country. But they didn't.

Berlin has about 170,000 residents of Turkish descent. For several months last summer, life-sized posters were displayed in subway stations and on advertising columns. They included a hotline telephone number and one sentence, written in both German and Turkish: "End your silence, not your life!"

Meryam Schouler-Ocak , the physician-in-chief at the psychiatric clinic of Berlin's highly respected Charité hospital, is behind the poster campaign. Her office is in the St. Hedwig hospital, not far from the café where Sema is sitting.

Schouler-Ocak is of Turkish origin. She has been hearing young Turkish women's stories for years. And ever since she saw the numbers corresponding to the stories, she has also been doing something about it.

Young German women of Turkish origin, she says, are five times as likely to attempt to commit suicide as non-immigrant women of the same age, and they are twice as likely to succeed.


See also: Germany: Muslim girls forced to lead double lives