Locals in a town in southern Kazakhstan sacrificed a white camel in a bid to end a suicide epidemic blamed on an evil spirit. Some 200 residents of the town of Karabulak, which has a population of some 40,000, attended the sacrifice ceremony.
The white camel was slaughtered on advice from the village elders some time after two middle school students hanged themselves. Three more teenagers were recently prevented from committing suicide at the last moment, and dozens more sought help of the imams of the local mosque.
The total death toll from suicides in 2011 in the town stood at 14, most of them adolescent boys. The surviving boys said they saw a vision of an old man clad in white who told them life is pointless and showed them a rope around his neck, imam Abdurrafi Rakhmatullayev said. “That was the Devil in human guise,” Rakhmatullayev said.
A similar incident took place in Karabulak 60 years ago, but the suicides were ended after one of the elders, or aqsaqals, advised a white camel sacrifice, town head Alimzhan Nishankulov said.
In the 1950s, Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union, but Nishankulov did not elaborate on what the Communist Party, notorious for its militant atheism, said about the ritual. No suicide attempts were reported in Karabulak after this week’s sacrifice.