Driven into a dead end...
Name: Okan Bayram
Okan Bayram was a student at the Department of Space Engineering at Istanbul Technical University (ITU). He worked as a barista at ITU's 1773 Coffee Sales Venue. Unfortunately, he recently committed suicide by jumping from a building in the construction area within the university's Ayazağa Campus.
The university administration issued a statement saying, “Okan Bayram, a former student of our Space Engineering Department, has passed away. As the ITU Family, we pray for mercy from God for our student and express our condolences to his family and all his loved ones. We are closely following the investigation related to the incident.”
The statement from the university administration received backlash from ITU graduates and students. Prof. Dr. Mikdat Kadıoğlu, Head of the Meteorology Engineering Department at ITU, clarified on his social media account that Okan Bayram was not a graduate. Kadıoğlu said, "There are people trying to defame us by saying a graduate couldn't find a job. He was a student we loved. Life conditions force students to work while studying, and when they are not successful, they fall into depression. Therefore, what's needed is not a scholarship for success but for necessity. The real issue here is a student who came with high scores having to work and being unable to graduate. I wanted to emphasize this. The approach of awarding scholarships for academic success in our country should shift to need-based scholarships."
It seems Kadıoğlu couldn't clearly express what he wanted to say. In such an event, whether the student is a graduate or not is irrelevant…
We are missing the most important point because the lives that are lost no longer seem to matter: “Life conditions are forcing students to work while studying.”
Kadıoğlu’s statement is a clear summary of the situation that our young people, whom we entrust with our country's future, are in.
A PAINFUL PICTURE
Okan Bayram and an unknown number of our young siblings have ended their lives. All of them were university students. Look at the news published in the national media in 2023;
A 20-year-old second-year medical student at Fırat University in Elazığ, E. K., committed suicide due to pressure experienced in a religious dormitory.
It was claimed that a 21-year-old third-year student in the Department of Elementary Mathematics Education at Anadolu University, R. A., committed suicide due to debts after taking out loans he couldn’t repay.
A university student S. N. R., who jumped from the fifth floor of the KYK dormitory in Eskişehir, ended his life.
A first-year Preschool Teaching student at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University (ÇOMÜ), S. T., committed suicide in the dormitory he stayed in. It was learned that he worked while studying, and committed suicide after returning from work the previous night.
An Engineering faculty student at Hacettepe University, A. T., was found dead in his dorm room at Beytepe Student Houses.
An 18-year-old first-year student in the Department of Oral and Dental Health at Samsun Ondokuz Mayıs University (OMÜ), E. C., was found dead in the bathroom of the dormitory he was staying in on campus.
A 22-year-old student at Adnan Menderes University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Z. E., died due to an elevator accident at the Güzelhisar KYK Girls' Dormitory in Aydın.
There are many reports of the deaths of our youths. The most recent victim was Okan Bayram.
Actually, we should avoid mentioning the names of those who have ended their lives, as it normalizes the situation and may influence others in a similar situation. But I can't bear it anymore. The inaction of anyone, and our failure as a society to take action, is infuriating. Such bright young people are not even a concern for the government or the opposition.
Curious about whether there was any official data on these heart-wrenching news stories that occurred in 2023, I checked. There are only TUIK (Turkish Statistical Institute) data, but they are for 2022.
In 2022, a total of 3,111 men and 1,035 women, a total of 4,146 people, committed suicide in Turkey. That means more than 11 people a day.
In 2000, the number of suicides was 1,802, which increased to 4,146 in 2022. Of the people who committed suicide in 2022, 1,116 were middle school graduates, 1,151 were high school graduates, and 635 had higher education.
According to TUIK, 565 people committed suicide by jumping from heights, 1,942 by hanging, 353 using chemical substances, 1,036 with firearms, and 81 with cutting instruments.
The age distribution of those who committed suicide:
- 410 people aged 15-19.
- 544 people aged 20-24.
- 568 people aged 25-29.
- 460 people aged 30-34.
So, according to TUIK data, 1,522 young people aged 15-29 committed suicide in 2022. That's 126 a month, 4 a day.
These numbers are for 2022. TUIK has not published the death data for 2023 yet.
The report lists the reasons for suicide as: Financial hardship 300, family discord 189, illness 1,113, educational failure 12, and others 1,306.
We must view suicide cases, especially those of university students, not just as numbers but as a sociological reality.
Young people who have clearly passed their university entrance exams should be focusing on their education and preparing for the future. Instead, they start facing problems immediately after the results are announced.
Not just the young people, but their families too are struggling with these problems. However, the primary battle is faced by the students themselves.
Despite efforts to paint a rosy picture, families affected by the economic crisis in our country have reached a point where they cannot even meet basic needs beyond educating their children.
One of the main problems young people face is housing. The inadequacy of state dormitories and the allocation of available solutions to reactionary foundations, religious communities, and orders based on political preferences are the main reasons for the housing problem.
Students who have to change cities to enroll in their dream universities apply to state dormitories as their first step.
According to the 2022-2023 Higher Education Statistics, there are 6,950,142 students in 208 higher education institutions in Turkey. As stated by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr. Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu, the dormitory capacity in Turkey has now exceeded 800,000.
Students in state dormitories also face many problems. We all see the news in the media. Elevator accidents, inadequate and unhealthy food, administrative pressures in dormitories, etc.
The remaining 6,150,000 students who cannot get a place in state dormitories start looking for housing. Students with sufficient financial means rent houses. Those with some means share rented houses with friends.
Private dormitories and municipal dormitories are also among the first choices.
Those who cannot find other options are forced to apply to foundation, community, and order dormitories.
I don't know what the authorities think, but the situation young people are in, their living conditions, future anxieties, economic situations, and political despair are driving them into a corner.
Okan Bayram is the latest example.
Were there safety measures at the construction site where he ended his life?
Was there a problem at his workplace within the university?
Were there other reasons? An investigation has begun. Unfortunately, the investigation will not bring Okan back. However, the causes and aspects of young people's suicides must be thoroughly investigated by experts.
We may be heading to space, but we are also extinguishing a generation in the darkness we have created.