Suicide is declining almost everywhere

July 11, 2020
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Zozh is a Russian neologism, born of an acronym for a healthy lifestyle. It is visible on Instagram, where millions of posts celebrate newly toned bodies; in the boom in health clubs in Russia’s cities; in the proliferation of cafés where the young sip soft drinks and munch muesli. It is so popular that Russia’s most famous rock band, Leningrad, has satirised it: “They say drinking isn’t trendy, the trend is some sort of zozh. Before he was a drunk, and now he’s muscleman.” The video of the song depicts men dying gruesome deaths while exercising.

For a band that trades on degenerate cynicism, zozh may be laughable, but for the rest of Russia it is great news. It is part of a social transformation that has helped banish Russia’s demons. As exercise and smoothies have replaced despair and alcohol, the suicide rate in Russia has crashed. And this trend is not unique to Russia.

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