Thursday, December 5, 2019

The way we speak of suicide is harmful.

1564 is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline
(Artwork by Tarek Chemaly)
In 1996, an AUB student committed suicide because he failed to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). At the time I was the "Campus" representative (Campus was the newspaper which had at the time replaced Outlook which was on hiatus) so instead of building on the hype, I went there and covered the matter like an adult speaking to psychologists and doctors and the outcome was that, once put into context, perhaps the student had a borderline disorder or accompanying causes which had put him under so much strain and pushed him to his decision.
The way we speak of the many suicides that happened - sadly - concurrently, in Lebanon is quite harmful. Statistically, someone dies by suicide in Lebanon every two and a half days, and an estimated suicide attempt every six hours. I am not belittling this at all, but I am simply trying to put the numbers in context. May 2018 saw 28 cases of suicides as an example - a statistically aberrant number but at the time neither the media and the people where not interested in it.
1564 is the number of the national suicide prevention hotline which recieves up to seven calls a day not only from people in mental or emotiona distress but from their families and loved ones as well. According to Mia Atoui, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Embrace Association for Mental
Health Awareness: " “In Lebanon, unlike other countries, we are a very small and tight community and when a suicide is committed the whole area would know about it. Suicide could be contagious. Once it is publicised it might affect vulnerable people and encourage them to take their own lives, too.”
So in essence the way suicide is being talked about is pushing people who are "on a ledge", please, let us be aware of the repercussions of our words.