At least 433 workers in Turkey have died by suicide in the last seven years, the majority of whom were white-collar workers, according to a report released by Turkey’s Health and Safety Labor Watch (İSİG).
The İSİG report reveals an increase in the number of worker suicides in Turkey in the last seven years, with 15 incidents taking place in 2013, 25 in 2014, 59 in 2015, 90 in 2016, 89 in 2017, 73 in 2018 and 82 in 2019.
Emine Gülizar Emecan, an İstanbul deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), recently shared the İSİG data during a speech delivered in parliament during budget hearings for the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services.
Speaking to Independent Türkçe on Wednesday, the lawmaker said the number of worker suicides in Turkey increases in direct proportion to the unemployment and insecurity in the country.
“Labor conditions that include working more than 12 hours a day, a heavy or excessive workload, work pressure, working at temporary jobs, work stress and low wages pose life-threatening dangers to workers in Turkey,” Emecan added.
İSİG spokesman Murat Çakır said according to their statistics poor workers were more prone to committing suicide than others and that Turkey’s deteriorating economic conditions had led to an increase in recent years.
Çakır added that suicide is more common among white-collar workers than others primarily because they start working at a relatively low salary after spending nearly 20 years getting an education.
“Their odds for becoming unemployed are much higher than for blue-collar workers. This creates a great amount of concern among educated workers. There are lots of university graduates over 30 years old in Turkey who do not have a steady job. That’s what leads to depression.”
The İSİG spokesman also said workplace mobbing creates pressure on workers. “Sometimes they experience incidents that include insults. It’s hard to bear, especially for university graduates.”
Nebile Irmak Çetin, a branch chairperson from the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), also told Independent Türkçe that mass worker suicides could be observed in Turkey in the near future.
“People are losing their jobs in Turkey all the time now. They spend all of their savings and then get into debt. It’s a desperate situation. If it continues like this, mass worker suicides could be seen in the country in the near future.”
Turkey has been experiencing double digit unemployment rates for years, with unemployment standing at 13.4 percent in August, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
Referring to people killed in work-related accidents, Çetin added: “Most of those cases are actually suicides. Those workers are in debt and they fail to make ends meet. Therefore, they cannot focus on their work and lose their lives in accidents. At least 270 people died in work-related accidents in October.”