Bulgaria’s largest religious denominations will hold public prayers “for peace, health and prosperity of the Bulgarian nation” between April 5 and 7, at the request of Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev.
On April 5, a number of mosques across the country included this in their Friday prayers, local media reported, with Christian churches of different denominations and Hebrew organisations set to join in during the weekend. Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the largest religious denomination in the country, will include the prayer in the Sunday mass on April 7.
Plevneliev made his appeal at a meeting with representatives of various religious groups, saying that it was prompted by the “despair and its reflection that we see in recent months.”
“The protests began with electricity bills being put on fire, but unfortunately continued with people self-immolating […] Let us pray that we do not go to extremes and suicide, let us pray that with patience and human dignity we can endure this crisis,” he said.
Nationwide protests in Bulgaria in February were sparked by rising electricity prices and high electricity bills, tapping into widespread discontent with the standard of living in the country. Since mid-February, six people have set themselves on fire, of whom four later died.
This prompted Bulgarian health authorities to order a heightened focus on suicide prevention programmes, including free counselling, while the country’s media regulator asked the media to be careful with how they cover such incidents, lest they make them appear “a civic example worth following”.
According to statistics quoted by news website Mediapool.bg, there were 2982 suicide attempts in Bulgaria last year, of which 763 ended in death, which put Bulgaria close to the EU average. However, there was no data on suicide attempts nationwide so far this year, the report said.
(Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Sofia. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)