Free psychological counselling and prayer organisations for all faiths is now been organised by Bulgaria with a view to stop suicides that have swept the country.
Religious leaders from the Christian Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian and Protestant churches, as well as Muslim and Jewish leaders, agreed Thursday to hold prayers all over the country this weekend following an initiative by President Rosen Plevneliev.
AdvertisementEarlier in the week, the health ministry ordered public hospitals to offer free psychological counselling to people.
The measures come after weeks of protests over high electricity bills, poverty and corruption that forced the right-wing government to resign but also saw seven people set themselves on fire, apparently pushed to despair by dire living conditions and lack of future prospects.
Five of them died of their injuries, with two severely injured. Police prevented a handful more from burning themselves in public.
"The protests started with people burning their electricity bills but sadly continued with self-immolations," Plevneliev said Thursday, urging everyone "to pray for an end to the suicides and for passing through the crisis with patience and dignity."
The prayers were to take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, his office said.
Aside from the self-immolations, almost 200 people have committed suicide this year, national health centre doctor Vladimir Nakov told Trud newspaper on Thursday.
Bulgaria is 80-percent Christian Orthodox but the Church has been slow to play a role in society after its influence was brutally suppressed by the country's 45-year communist rule.