Mankind's only alternative 20   JAN.   18  
Mankind's only alternative
Welcome
MAIN  RUSSIA  WAR NERD   [SIC!]  BAR-DAK  THE VAULT  ABOUT US  RSS
 
 
EXILE BLOGS

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Feature Story July 26, 2002
 
SUICIDE ON THE VOLGA RIVER: A Tale Of Two Republics
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
 

I went to Chuvashia and Mari-El to find out why so many people were killing themselves there. Two inconsequential republics along the Volga River, known only, if mentioned, as the suicide capitals of the world.

A poster on a street of Mari-El

Writing on the poster:
Road to temple is road to feature

The suicide rate in Mari-El is said to be the highest in the world. According to some statistics, the rate is upwards of 66 per 100,000 inhabitants (Mari-El has roughly 750,000 people). Russia's overall suicide rate is less than 40 per 100,000, while America's is around 10.

Chuvashia's suicide rate is over 50 per 100,000, and at one point after the crisis reached 7 per day. Today it's around 2 to 3 per day, in a republic of some 1,300,000.

Historically, suicide has always played a key role in Chuvash culture. Until a century or so ago, the ultimate form of revenge a Chuvash could take on his enemy was to go into his enemy's courtyard and hang himself on his doorstep. In the morning, said enemy would open the door and see the avenging Chuvash hanging there, neck snapped, tongue hanging out, eyes bulging. The living lose. Game over. This was the equivalent of doing a dirty chicken dance in the end zone: the surviving Chuvash would never recover from the shame, while the dead, suicidal Chuvash would live on as a man of honor and integrity, a real fighter.

"Suicide was never considered a sin here, but rather a virtue," said Alexander Belov, editor of the local Argumenty i Fakty in Cheboksary. "Christianity came late to Chuvashia. Until then we were pagans. That's still in the Chuvash blood."

Belov recounted one example: a babushka complained to her neighbor that he was always getting drunk and being loud. He rudely refused her pleas to quiet down. One night it got particularly bad. He got wildly drunk on samogon and made a racket. The following morning, the babushka came to his house with a bottle of samogon and a couple of glasses and tried to set the situation straight. He refused to drink with her and slammed the door on her face. The next time he opened the door, she was swinging from the rafter. Vengeance was hers. Nobody knows what happened to the avenged Chuvash who discovered the old woman swinging on his doorstep, but my guess is that he probably envied people with malaria or Ebola at that point, cuz having an old babushka hang herself on your doorstep was worse than two weeks of boiling organs.

A few months ago, Chuvashia's president, Nikolai Fyodorov, gathered together the top editors of the regional newspapers at his offices in Cheboskary to discuss the problem of suicide.

"He didn't have any solutions," said one participant at the talks. "He just wanted us to know that he considered it a serious problem and that he wanted to do something about it."

The republic's deputy head doctor in the ministry of health, Yevgeny Nikolaev, refused to discuss statistics or specifics with me during a ridiculously evasive interview.

"If you write about suicide, you'll just encourage more of it," he said.

"Don't you realize that readers will think the problem is even worse if the top medical expert won't even talk about suicide for fear of encouraging more?" I asked.

"Ah, I see your point," he said, nodding his head. "Yes, that's clever."

Even though Chuvashia and Mari-El are both small Volga River republics in the heart of European Russia, they couldn't be more dissimilar. The Chuvash are a Turkic people, the only Turkic tribe in the world that adopted Christianity rather than Islam. Their capital, Cheboksary, recently won a state-sponsored competition as the best-run city in Russia. Set in rolling hills on the banks of the Volga, Cheboksary is remarkably clean, well-kept with groomed parks, fountains on the canal that runs off the Volga, and packed with amazingly beautiful girls strolling the sidewalks, nothing but gazelles and giraffes.


SHARE:  Del.icio.us  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit
Ames
Browse author
Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
FROM THE VAULT
Russian Music
Charting the Future of Russian Music :

Pourquoi L'Exile :

Separated At Bug-eye? :

The Bored Whore Of Kyoto : European Johns line up to tap Russia's carbon reduction potential
 

 
 
 
LATEST ARTICLES

Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
Editorial
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...

 
 
 

    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442
E-mail: office@exile.ru