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Iraq Grapples With Increasing Suicide Rates

Iraq Grapples With Increasing Suicide Rates

Saturday, 27 April, 2019 - 07:00
Iraqis at Baghdad's prominent bookselling al-Mutanabbi street, EPA
Baghdad – Hamza Mustapha

In the few days following an Iraqi civilian self-immolating when walking out of one of Baghdad’s civil offices, a young groom attempted taking his own life in the Southern Maysan Governorate, prompting a serious social and public discussion to address the rise of suicidal tendencies in Iraq.

Reports have documented at least 131 suicide attempts having been made across the Middle Eastern country since the start of 2019.

As a counteractive measure, a proposal has been put forth to curb the hiking suicide rates, which have been rising for both the country’s male and female population. It included erecting suicide barriers on high bridges considered popular jumping spots for Iraqis looking to ending their lives.

Numerous reasons are believed to be driving suicide rates up in Iraq, but a national consensus found that the phenomenon is alarming and worth probing by state bodies.

“We do not justify suicide and its causes, but we want to know what is pushing citizens to this degree of despair,” Iraqi MP Abdallah Al-Kharbeet said, stressing that the“parliament is highly motivated to address this situation.”

Al-Kharabeet wasn’t alone in voicing parliamentary concern, MP Mohammad Iqbal said: “Suicide in Iraq has exceeded the normal distribution rate, and the situation has gone beyond frustration and psychological stages.”

Iqbal, who served as the country’s education minister under the government of ex-prime minister Haider al-Abadi, suspected that drugs could be a key factor in the tragic attempts.

While some of the country’s most renowned clerics cited poverty and drugs as the main drivers behind Iraqis looking to die, Shiite cleric, Farhan al-Saeed blamed the nihilism on the unhealthy and abrupt political transition Iraq experienced

“Iraq is not new to poverty and challenging times, the people have endured what is worst without resorting to death as a solution,” Saeed told Asharq Al-Awsat, noting that it was the “rapid transition away from a totalitarian--from absolute dictatorship to absolute freedom.”

“The problem we are experiencing is that there are no forces that guide society and apply deterrent measures to put an end to such confusion. Religious figures can only preach, but the action is needed today,” Saeedi explained.

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