The Romanian Was Not Born A Suicide!

political scientist

Let us start from the end: thank God Romanians are Orthodox, have not totally renounced the traditional values of the village (where 45% of them are still living, a record in Europe!), do not seem to show an ethnically-grounded morbid penchant for suicide, as is the case with less fortunate peoples, and have not yet reached the alarming heights of modern industrialism that would predispose them to the suicidal act! A sign of this equilibrium is, no doubt, the suicide rate. The father of the modern sociological theory of suicide, Durkheim, thought that the suicide rate may be considered a general indicator of happiness in the world, because suicide means, first of all, the refusal of life. After all, if we remember that, to the Greeks, "happiness" – eudaimonia (or whatever we understand by this word) meant a good relation between man and god (daimon), we may affirm, following the ancient Greeks' way of thinking, that the happiness of modern man is tantamount to godliness. Unhappy is he who no longer carries the god within himself, and the Romanian, who is not renowned as a suicide, is surely more "god-filled" than others. Looking into the statistics, we will notice that the suicide rate in Romania is between 10 and 15 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which places it in the category of low-incidence countries. Thus, in 1983 it comes to 10.9, in 1984 – to 11.6, in 1989 – to 10.9, in 1990 – to 9.0 (a singular occurrence, which turned post-revolutionary solidarity into an efficient shield against suicide), to 11.6 in 1992, 12.7 in 1997, etc. Germanic-speaking countries, such as Austria, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, even the Czech Republic, have rates between 20 and 30 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, therefore are considered medium-incidence countries, while (a well-known, yet unelucidated fact) our Hungarian neighbors have, unfortunately, rates that amount to as far as 50 cases per same number of inhabitants, an exceptional rate (in Romania included, where Hungarians commit suicide about three times more often than the majority population).Besides these constant rates, recent history provides unpleasant surprises. Durkheim believed that the urban environment is more favorable to suicide than the rural one, which is easy to understand from the viewpoint of his global theory on anomy. The city, an anomic, i.e. de-regulated environment par excellence, confines the individuals in the narrow circle of egotism and predisposes them to the fatal act. In Romania after 1990, however, a phenomenon took place that should give food for thought to sociologists and politicians alike, as the latter are the ones who administrate the nation's biological patrimony. The said phenomenon is the reversal of the suicidal axis from the city to the village. For the first time in the modern age, the Romanian village was more favorable to suicide than the city, whereas women living in the city have committed suicide more often than women living in the village. It results that, at least from this perspective, the burden of transition has been lying on the men who moved (in most cases against their will) from the city to the village. The village has become the tragic reserve of the city, the storage place for the average Romanian's unhappiness. Shall we then wonder that the villages do not change their dreary face? excerpted from Cultura, 9-15 June, 2004 

by Cristi Pantelimon