Conflicts & War

Mental health crisis driving more young Gazans to suicide

By Sara Gómez Armas and Laura Fernández Palomo

Gaza, Dec 6 (EFE).- “If you go out onto the street and ask someone if they would prefer life or death, many choose death. Life in Gaza is hard,” says Palestinian psychiatrist Fadel Abuhin, whose clinic has seen a spike of patients since the deadly military escalation with Israel in May.

 It is not a new trend in the Strip, where between 2016 and 2020, at least 101 people committed suicide and 2,382 attempts were reported, according to the official data.

But those figures do not reflect the reality in Gaza, as many suicides are either hidden or other causes of death are reported.

Aisam Yaser Arafat, a father of four children, tried to end his life in 2020 by setting himself alight on Gaza beach, but pedestrians saved him before he caught fire.

“I woke up that day, I had no money to pay the rent, I had no money for my children, I had no food, I had nothing,” the 39-year-old tells Efe from his house.

“I only had two shekels (50 euro cents) and I went to buy gasoline.”

He even posted a suicide note on Facebook to make sure that somebody would take care of his children — an unusual move as most suicide cases are kept secret by the families.

This secrecy is one of the main problems in tackling the deterioration of mental health in Gaza.

The lack of awareness about mental illness, treatment plans being interrupted or abandoned due to the recurring wars and the lack of resources and specialized medical personnel also hamper efforts to properly deal with the problem, Abuhin tells Efe.

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