THE LEVANT EXCLUSIVE – By Victoria Georgieva* -According to Wikipedia “Suicide” comes from the Latin Suicidium, from sui caedere : “to kill oneself and it is “the act of intentionally causing one’s own death”. Have you ever wondered about what are the reasons that could bring someone into the edge of despair? What is that thing that makes you decide to leave life?
November 3rd – the Bulgarian photographer Lidiya Petrova, goes calmly to the building where the President of Bulgaria works… and sets herself on fire. After few days, Lidiya dies from her burns. Relatives accompany her in her last journey on this earth by attending her funeral. Lidiya was 38 years old. Her son is 11 years old.
A personal tragedy or a line followed by some Bulgarians? Is the suicide of Lidiya related somehow to the political background in Bulgaria?
At the end of January 2013 the Bulgarians seem to have completely lost faith once again in their government. After the political changes in ’89 people in Bulgaria expected that the reconstructions will come easily; that the memories of the communism will soon fade away and the passing from one political system to another won’t cause any pain to the society. Dreams are free, but reality hits you sometimes with a brick. The situation in Bulgaria didn’t get better in time. Totally the opposite.At the end of 2012 and at the beginning of 2013 the Bulgarians received bills for gas and electricity too high for their way of living and the salaries they become. Although the average salary in the country is about 400eu, it is quite impossible to live with this money. However, people often say Bulgaria is not only the capital. In the small towns and villages people rarely receive 400eu (minimal salary in Bulgaria is 170eu), but on the other hand they have to pay great bills from about up to 200eu.
The patience went away during the winter of 2012 and many people went out on the street to protest against the biggest monopolism companies in the country.
It all began in the towns of Blagoevgrad and Sandanski and fast the protesters network expanded in the whole country. Some of the protestors wanted that the Grand National Assembly sits and talks about changes in the Bulgarian Constitution. The buildings of some of the biggest electricity companies in Varna and Plovdiv (Bulgarian cities) had been damaged by protestors, while in Sofia there were people injured and arrested. What began as a protest against the monopolism soon became a protest against all the unfair things that the Bulgarian state did to its people after ’89.
By this time also was born the Wave of the Suicides. What is this?
People, most of them protestors against the monopolism and the situation in the Bulgarian country, who were somehow led to the edge of their nerves, and decided to put an end of their life. According to the Bulgarian media, some of them were mentally ill. However, their suicides are often related to the protests and there is this unspoken feeling that their death is connected to the bad political and economical situation in the south-eastern European country.
Let’s have a quick look at Wave of the Suicides with fire in Bulgaria in the period February 2013 – November 2014. It is remarkable that most of the suicides were done in front of important government buildings as Buildings of Community in different cities. I will point only the important ones (not that a single suicide is not important, but some of them were more political colored):
– TrayanMarechkov– 26 years old. The first one to do a suicide by setting himself on fire during the Protests in February 2013.
– PlamenGoranov– his suicide was among the most commented ones and it was also highly reported in the media. The 36-years old Goranov sets himself on fire in front of the Building of the Community in Varna on 20th of February 2013. As being on fire, he shouted “Kiro, Kiro, today I had to be in Antaliya” (words directed to the mayor of Varna KirilYordanov). Goranovis mostly compared to Mohamed Bouazizi (the guy who by suiciding himself with fire set the beginning of the Arab Spring) and Jan Palach( a Czech student of history and political who committed suicide by self- immolation as a political protest against the end of the Prague Spring resulting from the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact armies.
– VentsislavVasilev, Daniela Nakova, TodorYovchev, VentsislavKozarev, TodorDimitrov, NadezhdaSultova, NikolayKumanov, Sabin Sabinov, GeorgiIvanov– names that we mention. But under these names we have lives, taken away.
Another wide range of people were seriously injured after attempts to commit a suicide by self- immolation.
Let’s go back to 2014.
Black statistics came out in August.
Only a day after the self-immolation of Lidiya, Bulgaria received news for another attempt to suicide caused bt a 48- years old man.
Unspoken was the fear – are we going to see another wave of suicides? Is this what is happening now related somehow to the Parliament Elections from October 5th and the lack of proper solution in the political background in the country? (NB The Elections from October 5th were second in a row for only year and a half).
Are we going to see another deja-vu?
The psychologist TodorTodorov commented for the Bulgarian Channel 3 : “I hope that we won’t see the deja-vu, that we won’t have the wave of suicides. For some people the suicide is an act of despair, they just don’t see any sense to continue. It could be also possible that someone wants to be paid attention. The fact that such things happen in the center of the capital city, in front of many people, talks for itself. It is early to say if the suicide of Lidiya was due to political reasons and if there is any connection between it and the meeting held by the same time in the building of the President Rosen Plevneliev”.
Still, Bulgaria haven’t found a way to make its people believe in the state again. And what is the state without its people? Or with people ready to commit a suicide?
We don’t have the answers yet. Only thing that we know by this time is the upcoming winter. And the rising bills.
Victoria Georgieva is a Bulgarian journalist and TV reporter.