A report drafted by main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Vice Chairperson Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi has revealed that suicides in Turkey have increased by 48 percent since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Saturday.
The number of suicides in the country increased from 2,301 in 2002 to 3,406 in 2019, the report said, noting that the ruling AKP failed to determine the reasons behind 42 percent of the suicides that took place during its rule.
Between 2017 and 2019, when Turkey switched from a parliamentary system of governance to an executive presidential system and granted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP sweeping powers, at least 65 people died by suicide every week.
A total of 9,916 people took their own lives in that period, which corresponds to 19 percent of the 53,425 people who died by suicide between 2002 and 2019.
Seventeen percent of poverty-related suicides during AKP rule took place between 2017 and 2019, with suicides committed due to financial problems increasing by 38 percent in the same period, the report showed.
The number of poverty-related suicides rose from 232 in 2017 to 312 in 2019.
“More than 10 suicides took place within the last 10 days, according to local reports. Daily reports of suicides during the pandemic hint at dark times ahead,” İlgezdi said.
An economic downturn and the value of the lira, which is hitting record low after record low, coupled with an additional negative impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have rendered Turks’ financial difficulties visible in 2020.
Among its significant indicators are the ever-growing lines at stalls where cheap municipal bread is sold, the expanded use of credit cards and an increase in credit card debt.
According to November 2020 data provided by the Interbank Card Center (BKM), some 75.3 million credit cards are actively being used in Turkey, a fairly high figure for a country with a population of 82 million.
The figures also show that credit card sales stood at TL 90.7 billion ($11.5 billion) in the same period. In the first nine months of 2020, private debt to banks grew by 37.2 percent.
The country’s religious authority, the Diyanet, which sent mosques a sermon to read during the Friday prayer, advised patience to Muslims who are suffering from financial difficulties on Feb. 26, in an attempt to cover up the AKP government’s poor performance on the economy, Turkish media reports said.