Lebanon News

Dad’s suicide blamed on situation in country

BEIRUT: A father of three ended his life Wednesday, making it at least the second suicide in Lebanon in less than a week amid a rapidly deteriorating economic situation. Dany Abou Haidar, 41, shot himself shortly after returning from work, his father told local TV station Al-Jadeed.

A security source told The Daily Star it was suicide but was unable to provide further details.

Speaking to Al-Jadeed, Haidar’s father said he was in the house when his son shot himself. Asked whether he thought the suicide was a result of the economic situation, his father said it was because of the “situation in the country in general,” adding that Haidar had only received half his salary the month before.

Haidar was an employee of Debbas, a local lighting company, and worked as a technician.

Local media reported that he had been fired from his job.

But according to a spokesperson at Debbas’ headquarters, Haidar had not been fired and was paid his full salary.

“He asked to leave early, at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., because he said his wife was sick, so he went home,” said Gassia Jalikian, a communication manager at the Debbas headquarters.

The news comes after a man in the Bekaa Valley town of Arsal ended his life Sunday, hanging himself after reportedly not being able to afford to give his daughter LL1,000 ($0.66).

According to the United Nations Development Program, 27 percent of Lebanese are considered poor, spending less than $270 per month.

In Lebanon, the first half of 2019 has witnessed almost the same number of suicides as expected for the whole year.

But while there has been an increase in reports of suicide in the media, Dr. Pia Zeinoun, a board member of mental health NGO Embrace, said this didn’t necessarily mean there was an increase in numbers. She estimated that in Lebanon on average one person died by suicide every three days, based on Internal Security Forces statistics - an average of 150 per year. But she said a lot of cases were not reported.

When asked whether there had been a recent increase in suicides due to the economic struggles Lebanese are facing, Zeinoun said “it’s hard to tell,” adding that in countries where there was a lot of economic disparity, social injustice and poverty, rates of mental illness tended to increase. Economic and social issues act as triggers for existing conditions.

Zeinoun told The Daily Star that suicide was a complex and multilayered issue.

“It’s more complicated than blaming it on the economic situation. ... [Most] of these cases will likely already have a mental illness and then these situations are the straw that broke the camel’s back, the last straw they can’t take anymore.”

But Zeinoun remained optimistic. “While it’s possible for us to see an increase, we’ve seen a lot of community solidarity at the same time.”

For the Embrace suicide prevention hotline, phone 1564.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 05, 2019, on page 2.




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