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Lebanon: Suicide Attempt Every Six Hours

Lebanon: Suicide Attempt Every Six Hours

Thursday, 21 June, 2018 - 12:00
Lebanese fishermen block a road before a truck that unloaded waste at the garbage dump of Karantina, north of Beirut on May 24, 2018 in protest against the site's use as a landfill and the resultant waste pollution with its effects to the local fishing business. JOSEPH EID / AFP
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
Lebanon is witnessing frequent suicide attempts among its youth, revealing mounting cases of depression, which, according to specialists, are closely linked to the deteriorating social and economic situation.
Last week, more than four cases of suicide were reported in several Lebanese areas, while official data indicates that, up to May 2018, 100 cases were registered at a time when the number of cases last year reached 143, 128 suicides in 2016 and 138 in 2015.
Based on these figures, Dr. Elie Karam, director of the Idraac Association (Center for Research and Development of Applied Therapy), and Mia Atwi, a psychologist and co-founder of the Embrace Association for Mental Health Awareness, said that the situation in Lebanon was not at a dangerous stage, especially as the rate is estimated at 2 percent of the total population at a time when in other countries the rate can reach 15 percent.
Atwi pointed out that suicide has turned into a major concern for public health in Lebanon, noting that Internal Security Forces data indicates a case of suicide every two and a half days in Lebanon, and suicide attempt every six hours.
She told Asharq Al-Awsat that the association has allocated a hotline for assistance, noting that from September to February, the association received 200 calls from people reporting possible cases of suicide attempts, while between February and May there were about 400 calls.
On the other hand, Karam underlined the need to wait until the end of the year to find out the final figures and whether the suicide rates have indeed increased.
“If the situation continues as it is, it means that at the end of 2018 the number of suicides may reach 250, and then we can talk about an increase in this phenomenon”, he said in remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat.
Family, moral and social support constitutes a key element in helping a person overcome psychological problems. In this regard, Atwi said that the hotline was aimed at providing such support, assessing the patient’s suicide risk and communicating with the family.
Causes of suicide in Lebanon are not different from those in other countries, especially Arab countries, according to Karam and Atwi. Those are mainly due to mental illness, depression, deteriorating social and economic factors, and genetic factors.

Karam points out that suicide is the world’s second leading cause of death of young people between 18 and 25, after traffic accidents.

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