Russia’s state-run media watchdog Roskomnadzor has notified the online media outlet Pravoslavie i mir (Orthodox Christianity and the World) that it is illegal to disclose the reasons behind a suicide. The official warning came after the website published an article titled Two Cancer Patients Committed Suicide in Moscow.
Roskomnadzor said the website is forbidden from using the phrase, “The wife of the deceased explained that her husband suffered from constant pain caused by his cancer and often said that he was tired of his illness.”
The original publication on Pravoslavie i mir has now been redacted. In compliance with demands from authorities, the sentence highlighted above was deleted, along with the description of the means by which the suicide was committed. The original content is, however, cached.
Since 2012, the Russian government has been legally authorized to demand the removal of information deemed to “propagate suicide.” The law states that it is prohibited to publish calls to suicide and descriptions of suicide methods.
The Federal Service on the Protection of Consumer Rights (Rospotrebnadzor), which is responsible for suicide prevention, has surveyed 5,684 websites since 2012. Prohibited information was found on 5,532 of them.
On March 19, it was reported that a cancer patient, cardiology professor Edmund Michael Lyude had killed himself on March 18 by leaping from the window of his seventh-floor apartment building in Moscow. According to police, the 90-year-old scholar had left a suicide note saying he was tired of fighting his disease.
In February 2015, there were 11 reported suicides by cancer patients in Moscow alone.
Read more: A pain epidemic — Why it’s easier for some cancer patients in Russia to kill themselves than get painkillers