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Public Defender's Statement on Facts of Suicide among Adolescents

The Public Defender expresses concern about the suicide committed by a 17-year-old adolescent on January 9, 2016, in the town of Borjomi, and extends condolences to his family.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia has launched an investigation under article 115 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which pertains to pushing a person to committing suicide. The Public Defender's Office has also started to study the case.

It should be noted that Georgia does not have a document on prevention of suicide among children. Therefore, it is impossible to study the causes and risk factors of this problem and to adopt preventive measures for eradication of this phenomenon. Results of the cases studied by the Public Defender's Office show that none of the perpetrators has been identified and prosecuted with regard to the cases investigated under article 115.

Pursuant to Article 62 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Georgia has a positive obligation to protect the right to life. In particular, the state must do its best to ensure survival of every child and his/her healthy development.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is concerned about the growing number of suicides among adolescents in a number of countries and urges all states to take effective measures in order to realize the mentioned phenomenon and to carry out support and intervention programs for prevention and elimination of the problem.

Causes of suicide among adolescents are diverse and require special examination. For example, in its General Comment N13 (on the child’s right to be protected from all forms of violence) the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child considers violence against children to be one of the main causes of suicides among adolescents. In addition, the Committee underlined in its Concluding Observations on Georgia (2008) and the General Comment N15 (enjoyment of the highest possible standard of health care) the need for prevention and elimination of suicidal behavior and adoption of relevant measures in this regard.

Given the abovementioned, it is necessary that professionals working with children - teachers, social workers, psychologists and law enforcement officers - realize their roles and responsibilities in terms of protection of child’s rights and prevention of suicide.

The Public Defender calls on the Government of Georgia to pay special attention to the study of causes of suicide in children and to take preventive measures for eradicating the problem – to develop a policy for prevention of suicide in adolescents and to ensure engagement of experts, specialists and stakeholders in the process. He also calls on the Ministry of Internal Affairs to carry out quick and effective investigation into the facts of suicide among adolescents.

The Public Defender will observe the effectiveness of the efforts of responsible agencies on his own initiative.

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