Suicide rates reach highest level in five years in Jordan

Corona and the decline in the economy are two major factors that can lead to suicide.

(Design: Jordan News)
According to the Department of Statistics, 169 people committed suicide in Jordan in 2021, 10 percent up from the year before and the highest number since 2017.اضافة اعلان

Every year 703,000 people around the world take their own life and many more attempt suicide, according to the World Health Organization. Suicide, WHO says, “is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries, and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind”.

The reasons vary, but suicide usually happens when people lose the ability and strength to cope with life and direct their fury and frustration toward themselves, taking their own life.

It may be induced by psychological vulnerability, lack of social relationships, and lack of financial assistance. In reaction to the socio-economic situation in which they find themselves, some people choose to end their life, said Dr. Abdallah Abu Adas, consultant psychiatrist and member of the American Psychiatric Association.

According to Professor of sociology Hussein Alkhozahe, “the desire to commit suicide has several motivations, the most prominent of which is to send a message to the community as a result of the psychological and social problems this person is experiencing, particularly poverty and unemployment”.

Abu Adas told Jordan News that suicides are higher among men, despite the fact that women attempt suicide at a higher rate.

“This is because men commit suicide in more aggressive and successful ways,” he said.

Abu Adas believes the number of suicides in jordan  is higher this year because, on the one hand, “the process of documenting and recording suicides has become more systematic”, and, on the other, because “following the corona pandemic, the world was stunned, and Middle Eastern and African societies were particularly hard hit economically and socially. Economic fragility results in psychological fragility among some individuals”.

Dr. Nader Mohammad Alsmady, a senior psychiatrist who is the head of the Judicial Department at the National Center for Mental Health and the head of the Scientific Committee at the Jordan Association of Psychiatrists, seems to agree.

According to him, “the high suicide rates are attributed to more accurate case recording at the present time, as there was no accurate documentation of suicides previously, but this increase cannot be confirmed as 100 percent real”.

The reasons for individuals to commit suicide are increasing, he said, “as we have seen in recent years as a result of the corona pandemic, which has impacted the economic situation and, as a result, suicide rates”.

The Kingdom lacks a national registry for suicides due to the sheer number of mental health agencies involved. The Ministry of Health and those working in the field of psychology envision a national registry that connects all parties to improve suicide and mental health documentation and follow-up.

According to Alkhozahe, a person who commits suicide has usually failed in several previous attempts.

“His inability to solve his problems, the community surrounding him not paying attention to what he suffers from, and the lack of state support for him” lead to a “state of severe depression”.

The economic situation significantly influences people who are contemplating suicide, said Alkhozahe, adding that in Jordan’s case, “economic crimes account for 66 percent of all crimes”.

According to Yusuf Mansur, CEO of Envision Consulting Group and former minister of state for economic affairs, “individuals’ psychology is greatly influenced by their economic situation”. He went on to say that since 2010, the average real income of an individual has been falling and youth unemployment is nearly 50 percent.

“This is not a new problem; we have been dealing with it for at least 10 years, and it is only getting worse. The youth do not have savings to get through what is currently happening, they do not have savings, no income, and they cannot find a job, which creates a state of misery. Also, prices are rising, and as they do, people’s incomes are shrinking even more. All of this creates a very negative outlook on life; this problem may explain why some people commit suicide.”

According to Mansur, the impact of social media should not be underestimated; “the youth are now exposed to many cultures and experiences abroad, so they are learning from others by comparing their lives to others’ and considering suicide as a solution as they see some other people committing it. This affects their perception and acceptability toward suicide as a solution”.
… Suicide risk factors include prior suicide attempts, as the majority of successful suicides are preceded by failed suicide attempts, which must be highlighted to prevent it from happening again, severe cases of acute psychological trauma, economic and social pressures, psychological diseases such as depression, some addictive cases, and occasionally the presence of incurable diseases.
Alkhozahe believes that a special center should be set up to psychologically, morally, economically, and socially help people who hace suicide thoughts or try to kill themselves.

According to Abu Adas, “the most psychologically vulnerable groups should be highlighted, particularly the youth, who face multiple social or economic challenges, as well as the elderly, who may face social isolation due to age, disease, or declining economic status, as they are particularly vulnerable to suicide”.

He also said that “suicide risk factors include prior suicide attempts, as the majority of successful suicides are preceded by failed suicide attempts, which must be highlighted to prevent it from happening again, severe cases of acute psychological trauma, economic and social pressures, psychological diseases such as depression, some addictive cases, and occasionally the presence of incurable diseases”.

“As a psychiatrist, I believe that the majority of suicides are the result of mental illness,” said Alsmady, adding: “Most people who commit suicide had visited follow-up centers for their psychological state a month before, without declaring their intention to commit suicide, hoping to be discovered due to shyness and fear of their statement.”

“Part of addressing the problem of suicide is raising awareness about the issue, breaking down the stigma and fear of consulting a psychiatrist, and advising any individual to follow himself and his feelings,” he said.

According to Abu Adas, “there must be specialized teams that reach out to these cases and try to evaluate each case individually, as well as work to increase the philosophy of solidarity and social cohesion so that individuals do not feel psychological alienation, and increase social dialogue with vulnerable groups of young people or those who suffer from family and domestic violence and may commit suicide to end the violence”.

“The integrated psychiatric medical team, which includes a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, psychiatric nurse, social researcher, and occupational therapist, also plays an important role,” he added.

Some 52 psychiatric clinics are distributed throughout the Kingdom, including those within comprehensive health centers or hospitals, providing mental health services as part of the procedures carried out at the National Center for Mental Health, said Alsmady.

“Due to a lack of mental health staff, not all of these clinics are open on a daily basis. Depending on where the clinic is located, each clinic has different hours,” he said, adding that “increasingly, physical and mental health services are being integrated, helping to reduce the stigma of seeing a psychiatrist”.

Mental health services are now a necessity, so insurance companies should cover them. Individuals are relieved of significant financial burdens and are able to more easily access mental health services when they are insured,” he said.

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