The udmurt suicide

Sofya Tatarinova

2012 - 2016

The Udmurts is a Finno-Ugric nation. They live in a Republic of Udmurtia and some neighboring areas. The World Health Organization data states that starting from the end on the eighties this region has had one of the top highest levels of suicides in the world. It is three times higher than the critical norm which is 10,5% per head.

Suicides in Udmurtia outstand in certain aspects. First of all most of them are committed by men and in rural areas (twice more often than in the cities). Mostly people just hang themselves. There are several reasons for that. One of them is sheltered in the cultural traditions of the nation. The Udmurts are shamanists and in their legends the suicide rope was vested with mystical powers.

Amongst other reasons could be named alcohol and extraordinary vulnerability of the Udmurt men. Besides, living in a reserved environment, which is quiet the Udmurt village, makes and influence: for example gossips about wife cheating spread like fire and there is no way to escape shame.

After the death of a man his family and friends, suicides' widows and wives, are left to live on their own and cope with all the hardships of living in a countryside. They survive in spite of everything.

Widows get immersed into daily household life and as time goes by any misery erases from their heads. Udmurts are inseparability connected to the nature, which is the essential part of their religion and rituals. The nature, as endless, mesmerizing, mysterious and powerful as it can be, surrounds small villages of the Udmurts. They are completely blended with it both spiritually and physically. There it always remains with a person reminding him how tiny and lonely he might appear to be.

This series of photographs does not tell us only about the self-murderers themselves, but about those who remain after them, and what they are left with, how their tragedy becomes the tragedy of the whole nation.

The series is about the life that goes and cannot be disturbed by somebody’s personal wish to interrupt it.

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  • Lubov Sufiyarova is retired now.
    She is 58 years old and she lives in the village of Bolshoy Gondyr in the region of Perm.

    "Our old bathhouse tumbled down. We started setting up a new blockhouse, but we never actually finished it. My husband has hung himself right on its porch. I go to my daughter’s bathhouse now”.

    Six years ago somebody stole their hay. So they had to buy a calf instead of a cow. The husband could not survive that. After several unsuccessful attempts he finally hung himself leaving two grown up daughters

  • Gulfina Nuritdinova works in the administration of a village of Novye Tatyshly in Bashkirya. She is 43 years old.

    “It is so sad, that you can’t come tomorrow. We have just killed a goose, will be making a soup tomorrow. Unfortunately, our house is small. I have so many things to do. I can’t cope with all of it”.

    In 1996 her husband hung himself in the woods on his birthday. Nobody knows why. She got married again. She is currently living together with her daughter and granddaughter.

  • Antonina Islamova works as an insurance agent.
    She is 52 years old and lives in Bolshoy Gondyr village in Perm region.

    “I buried two sons: one died, when he was 28 years old, because of the woman and the younger one was beaten up to death. He was only a student. Now I’m afraid to walk by the cemetery where they are buried”.
    In 2008 her older son hung himself because he couldn’t stand gossips about his girlfriend cheating on him. Now Antonina lives with her husband and a son who was adopted from a problem family.

  • Lyudmila Baidusova is an entrepreneur. She is 52.
    She lives in a village of Aribashevo in Bashkiriya.

    "Now I joyfully meet every morning and I am thankful to my destiny for giving me a chance to see the sky. My husband was driving drunk intentionally. I couldn’t stop him, so I went along. All down the road he kept on saying that he would take me with him. He died in the carcrash. I stayed alive."
    In 1998 her husband committed suicide for unknown reasons. She brought up two children on her own and never got married again.

  • Natalia Garaeva is a secretary. She is 46.
    She lives in a village of Novie Tatysly in Bashkiriya.

    “I brought up my daughter alone. I am a grandma right now. We are
    building a new house, I can’t wait to live in it ”.

    Her husband hung himself in 1986 in a fit of jealousy. There had been
    a lot of gossips about her unfaithfulness. She never got married again.