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Suicide Is a Highly Controversial Issue in Yemen

Sawt Al-Amal (Voice of Hope) – Hanan Hussein

Reasons and motives behind suicidal thoughts and tendencies vary from one person to another. The question here is: Why do some people believe that ending their lives is the best solution for them?

Sawt Al-Amal newspaper conducted a field survey on suicide to explore the opinions of many Yemenis from different social and cultural strata.

Interpretations and Judgments

Samia Al-Ansi, a broadcaster and program presenter, confirmed that there are several reasons for committing suicide, including family disintegration or imbalances in the family, the wrong upbringing of individuals, the absence of community awareness, the psychological state of individuals and their weak will, and the absence of religious values that urge them to be patient.

Haifa Ali, a housewife, said that those who commit suicide very often reach a point where there is no hope for life and continuity. They find no help from their society whose members always make wrong and offensive interpretations and analyses about someone’s suicide. Some people may, at times, insult and slander people, especially females, who committed suicide. She added, “society often judges people even after their death. If the person committing suicide was a young man, the society attributes his suicide to addiction, and if a young woman to honor-shame issues.”

Economic Reasons

Some people believe that the difficult living conditions and the inability of young people to support themselves and their families may lead them to commit suicide, escaping the responsibilities that they have accrued. According to Saleh Ahmed, a worker, suicide is sometimes an escape from the harsh reality of actual living conditions, and may be the solution for some if their problems are unsolvable.

Suicide is a Sin

Hayat Yahya, an employee, said, “the person who commits suicide is a coward, and his faith is weak. Although suicide is socially unacceptable, it is very widespread. Conflicts and the lack of employment opportunities for a decent livelihood have contributed to the spread of suicide.”

Furthermore, Salma Ali, a third-year university law student, said, “suicide has existed from time immemorial. Only after all solutions are exhausted does a person resort to suicide. Society looks at the person who commits suicide through a religious lens only, ignoring all the circumstances that claimed his life and brought him to this stage. It is a look devoid of humanity.”

Alia Mabkhout, an information technology specialist, said, “from society’s point of view, suicide is a result of lack of faith, ignoring the mental illness that requires urgent psychological treatment. If there are people who feel psychological pressure or disorders and think of going to a psychiatrist, they quickly give up the idea as they hear words like “shame” and “haram”.” Referral to a psychiatrist may elicit fears of stigmatization.

Iman Abdullah, a student at the College of Computer Science, confirmed, “the person who commits suicide is destined for Hell, because he hastened to finish his exam in this worldly life. After his suicide, his entire life will be the subject of debate, especially if he was financially good, and he has all means of comfort.”

The Psychological Aspect

Dr. Hisham Alwan, a psychiatrist, explained, “there are many root causes for suicide, the most important of which are the psychological ones. Society does not recognize mental illness like its recognition of witchcraft, the evil eye, and envy. Instead of referring to psychiatrists for help, people go to sheikhs for treatment, which is useless and further exacerbates the problem. They very often end up committing suicide.”

Samar Al-Haddad, a community activist, added that one of the causes for suicide is the loss of a loved one. Some people may not want to live anymore after losing their loved ones. Likewise, helplessness to provide the basic necessities of life in light of the current conditions, unemployment, mental illness among others are major reasons for suicide.

Ahmed Hashem, a master’s student of media studies, said “suicide is a difficult decision that can only be taken by people who have reached a dead end. It is inevitable for those whose lives have become unbearable and bleak.”

Public opinion on death as a means of escape from life shows that the societal environment and its imposed conditions, life pressures, and mental illness are the primary causes of suicide.

Saleh Al-Rahbi, a 46-year-old citizen, said: “If people took care of their sons and daughters and replaced neglect with care and containment, all societal problems would have been resolved, the individual and society would have grown up on unshakable values, and the love of life with all its obligations and duties would be firmly established.”

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