Trigger Warning (Depression/Suicide) ⚠️
Spreading awareness about all forms of mental health - the good and the bad - is incredibly important to PaliRoots. As a community of brothers and sisters, it's imperative that we all continue to uplift one another despite the darkest times. Anxiety, depression, and suicide are struggles that any human on earth can face - and we at PaliRoots want you to know we see you and we hear you. Considering #SuicidePreventionMonth, we wanted to shift our focus to the conversation of mental health significance.
Globally, suicide remains one of the leading causes of death. Breaking down the numbers, 800,000 suicides annually translates to one every 40 seconds. Yet, there isn’t enough encouragement on identifying, educating, and treating mental health. Why is there still a stigma around this devastating matter?
From the USA to Palestine, the rates of suicide keep climbing. According to UN’s OCHA, Gaza is at a point where “current average figures put the number at 562 attempts per year”. In fact, a 2020 study found that “53.5% of children in Gaza were suffering from PTSD and nearly 90 percent had experienced personal trauma”. The percentage of individuals aged (0-14) years constituted 38% of the total population in mid-2021; of whom 36% in the West Bank and 41% in Gaza Strip.
Life situations that Gazan's face that allow them to feel as though their lives should be cut short are things such as unemployment, living in poverty, and limited health resources.
Unemployment: Results also showed that more than one-fourth of the participants in the labour force were unemployed in 2020, where the percentage reached 26% (16% in the West Bank and 47% in Gaza Strip). Accordingly, unemployment rate reached 40%.
Poverty: Poverty is more widespread than previously believed; 29.2 percent of individuals were living below the poverty level in 2017 and this is higher than the corresponding rate of nearly 26 percent in 2011. Moreover, the incidence of deep poverty increased from nearly 13 percent in 2011 to 16.8 percent in 2017.
Health Resources Available in Palestine: Just as Gaza was climbing out of a second wave of coronavirus infections, its only virus testing lab was damaged by an airstrike and has been shut. Health officials fear further outbreaks among tens of thousands of displaced residents crowded into makeshift shelters after fleeing massive barrages.
Despite this fact coming from a strip that has experienced reoccurring trauma and violence under fire, the topic has continued to be considered taboo. Israel’s control of Palestine has left innocent victims with no access to hospitalization, mental health screenings, or any general treatment. And unfortunately, rates of suicide and mental disorders remain unreported. The absence of records and effective treatment centers will only lead to an increase in endangerment, trauma, and self-harm. How can we help? A few ways to be proactive in reducing mental illness in Palestine is to research, repost, and donate to Palestinian relief organizations.
As for being a resource to another, make sure to know the warning signs that might flag a person who needs help. According to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, signs of depression and suicide can vary and often can go unrecognized. Many people can close themselves off and hiding their emotions. In any case, risk factors may include mood and behavior changes, trauma and abuse, and phrases of committing self-harm or speaking in terms of self-hatred. Depression and suicide, like all mental illnesses, should always be taken seriously.
Always make sure to check up on your loved ones. There is no time stamp on self-harm or depression, so it is vital to act calmly and quickly. Everyone’s healing is different, whether that be a simple conversation with a friend or seeking help from a professional. Please remember - it is OK to not be OK. Please use your voice and speak up. If you yourself are suffering from a mental health illness, below are some sources for you as well.
♥️ Relief Organizations to Donate To:
Stay up to date with our PaliRoots Funding Projects
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
📞 - 800-273-8255
📱 - Text TALK to 741741
About the Author: Layan Beirat is a first generation Palestinian American whose family originates from Beit Safafa and Kufer Malik. Growing up in a very Arab environment in the Chicagoland area has made her appreciate the delicate experiences on Palestinian roots - which she longs to visit again soon!