Suicide is rising at an alarming rate, particularly among the young in war torn, impoverished Algeria, according to some deputies and the press.
There were around 75 suicides in Algiers last year, 65 in 1998 and 31 in 1996, according to an opposition Front for Socialist Forces (FFS) deputy, who raised the issue in parliament on Monday.
He claimed new policies on foreign debt payment, imposed on Algeria by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), were pushing the suicide rate up.
But the minister in charge of parliamentary relations, Abdeloubahab Derbal, said he had no figures on the suicide rate and denied the phenomenon was related to economic policy saying "terrorism is one of the principal causes of suicide."
Over 100,000 people, including women and children, have been brutally murdered and 20 billion dollars of damage allegedly caused by Armed Islamic groups fighting government forces since 1992.
But Derbal's explanation was scorned by other parliamentarians, sociologists and the press who see the country's economic troubles as the main reason for growing despair, particularly among the young.
Algeria's efforts to reform its outdated and foundering economy have meant the recent closing of 2,000 state-run businesses, with the consequent loss of 40,000 jobs.
Over 30 percent of the population is unemployed, and 80 percent of the jobless are aged between 20 and 30.
Over a million are homeless; thousands are living with 10 to 12 people crammed into small, dirty rooms with no running water, drains or waste collection system.
Sociologists say it is not so much poverty as the total lack of future prospects in a country torn apart by war, corruption and a disastrous economy, which is pushing people to the brink - ALGIERS (AFP)
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