Four siblings in their 50s and 60s were living in the same apartment in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Istanbul, Fatih. Last week, they were found dead in their flat. They hung a warning sign on their door, saying “There is cyanide inside, do not enter, call the police.”

According to police reports, it was revealed that the siblings were struggling financially. Only one of them had a job working as a model for fine arts students at a university. She could not handle the task of being the sole breadwinner, and the family had not been able to pay the bills for the last couple of months. 

It was a monumentally tragic scene: as the bodies were removed from the flat, the electric company technicians came and cut the electricity due to the unpaid bills. After death arrived, the electricity company followed to turn off the lights.

A seller in the local market from whom the siblings had been buying for the last 15 years told BBC Turkish they would buy five or six loaves of bread every day. He said they would not pay daily, but at the beginning of every month. The seller also had not been paid by the siblings for the last two months.

A similar tragedy last week also happened in Antalya. A young couple with their two kids were found dead after an apparent collective suicide. The father left a letter behind in which he wrote that he had not been able to find a job. This put the family in a severe debt, he said, and there was no other choice. Like the siblings from Istanbul, the young family of four also died by poison. The investigation implied that the father likely poisoned himself after he administered the poison to the rest of the family, who seemed to have been unaware of the tragic fate approaching them. 

Edirne was site of tragedy on November 8. A young customs official ended his own life. Following his death, the official’s father said that his son had taken out a line of credit from the bank and had been struggling to pay it back. 

It was a week of tragedies from different corners of Turkey. For some, it felt as if society had entered the plot of a science fiction story in which an unknown virus infected people and pushed them to suicide. Others questioned their whether the people in question were possibly selective in how they perceived things, and wondered if everything in life comes down to how one observes reality. In any case, one thing was undeniable: all of the tragedies had financial and existential troubles at their core.

One of the heaviest financial crises in Turkey’s history was in 2001. It first became public symbolically when a salesman threw a cash till at then-Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit. The man threw the giant cash box in front of the cameras as Ecevit was walking into his office. As the till hit the floor and shattered into pieces, the salesman yelled, “We are struggling!” The incident symbolically marked the beginning of the end of the Ecevit era. 

Obviously no one can even come close to throwing anything at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today. No one can even come close enough to simply ask a question about the declining quality of life in Turkey. However, the latest surge of suicides could be as symbolic as the shattered cash till 18 years ago. The market does not seem to be convinced by the official macroeconomic parameters announced by the state, and youth unemployment is on the rise. It is hard to see a bright future through the eyes of the Turkish middle class.

It is also not easy to analyze the state of the Turkish economy. Even argument-based, scientific criticisms about the economy are enough to drive the Turkish government mad. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Berat Albayrak, who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law, compared a group of economics professors who criticized the state of the economy to terrorists. Albayrak said the criticisms were an attempt to scare the people and create panic which is “a terrorist modus operandi.”

The pro-government newspaper Sabah recently wrote about the government’s new legislative initiative. According to the article, the new law would not necessarily fix the problems of the population, but would financially punish those who speak negatively about the Turkish economy.

It seems it will soon be illegal to talk about the elephant in the room. However, it also seems that more and more rooms are becoming too small for the elephant to be ignored.