700 Suicides in One Year

700 Suicides in One Year

Al Mada, Iraq, November 9

Over 700 suicides have taken place in Iraq in the past year. We must “congratulate” our politicians for this dubious milestone, which joins a long list of “achievements” they’ve secured for our nation over the past decade, including the loss of Iraq’s wealth, through the fall of Mosul, to the draining of public funds. The most tragic thing about these deaths is that those who committed suicide chose to take their lives for sins they did not commit. The truth is that the government has failed them: It limited their freedom, restricted their ability to breathe, denied them employment and education opportunities, and left them with no hope for a better future. Most of those who killed themselves are women, especially young ones. Like thousands of other women across our country, they’ve been struggling with unemployment, depression, and limited opportunities. Many developed chronic illnesses like schizophrenia, while others began using drugs. They found themselves living in an open-air prison. Instead of carefully analyzing the sources and repercussions of this dangerous phenomenon, our failed government took a futile approach to dealing with this crisis. First, it promoted religious fatwas – verdicts – prohibiting and criminalizing suicide, thereby assigning shame and blame to the suffering individual, who is the chief victim. Second, it tasked the police and security services with dealing with the issue, thereby eliminating any compassion and mercy from the equation. Young people around Iraq are discontent with what is happening to them. They are forced to fight systematic, deliberate policies that limit their prospects for a better future. These 700 souls who lost their lives may very well have been alive today if it weren’t for the government’s refusal to address the economic and social crises that have plagued Iraq. –Abdel Moneim Al-Asam (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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