Rising suicides in Gaza cast light on ‘unbearable’ existence

Jerusalem, Jul 22 (efe-epa).- Between 3 and 4 July in Gaza three young men killed themselves and a woman attempted suicide.

The growing rate of mental health issues, an issue which is still largely a taboo among Palestinians, has sparked outrage and concern among the community.

“It is not a futile attempt, it is an attempt to redeem and end,” Suleiman al-Ayourni, 23, posted on his Facebook account, before taking his own life on 4 July.

In the same 24 hour period two other young men, one aged 24, killed themselves and a woman survived an attempt to end her own life.

There have been more than 400 people who have attempted suicide and 17 who took their own lives in Gaza so far this year.

The increase in suicides has caused outrage on social media with many Palestinians holding their leaders responsible for this problem.

Gaza is subjected to an Israeli blockade and controlled by the ultra-conservative Islamist movement Hamas.

Hamas police spokesman Ayman al Batniyi said officers have confirmed at least three suicides in the past two weeks and are investigating the reasons behind them.

The issues, which is still largely a taboo for religious and socio-cultural reasons, has dominated public conversation.

Palestinian leaders have blamed Israel for a maritime, air and land blockade which has been in place since 2007.

The blockade has devastated the economy with unemployment rates above 70 percent among young people.

It has also been affected by internal political division and Gaza’s separation from the West Bank.

“The reason is that living conditions are extremely difficult, especially among young people, who are also losing hope in changes or improvements,” Samir Zaqout, from Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, says.

He adds that the majority of those who attempt suicide are young and that life for the more than two million Palestinians in the enclave “is not a normal life like that of the rest of the world.”

Mohammed, 25, who did not want to give his surname, tells Efe that he tried to take his own life two months ago after losing hope of finding a job.

“My father is unemployed and I am the oldest in the family, the rest go to school,” he says.

“I knocked on all doors looking for a job. I felt responsible for my family and when I lost hope I decided to end my life.”

Two years ago the United Nations predicted that Gaza would be “uninhabitable” by 2020.

The situation has deteriorated since then and the coronavirus pandemic has put another strain on daily life.

Although the likelihood of leaving the enclave before the outbreak was low it is practically nil now.

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